Summary: While migraines are a common occurrence, the cause of them are still not very well known. A new migraine treatment has started to emerge, and it may do even more than we imagined.
Around 10% of Americans deal with periodic, ongoing migraine headaches. This painful condition, characterized by a severe headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and a sensitivity to light or sound, keeps countless people away from their favorite activities and costs American employers thousands of dollars in lost productivity every year. Although migraines are common, their cause remains elusive. Research has pointed to genetics and external environmental factors as contributors, but it’s unclear how much of a role they actually play. Today, many medications and other therapeutic options are available to migraine sufferers, but most of them merely treat symptoms rather than preventing the headaches from happening in the first place.
Although it’s still early, one treatment shows significant promise — and comes with an unexpected side effect. Blepharoplasty, known more commonly as eyelid surgery, is a cosmetic procedure typically performed by plastic surgeons to improve the look of the eyelids. Blepharoplasty can be performed on the upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both, and is an extremely effective way to treat many different aesthetic concerns, such as:
- Fatty deposits
- Dark circles
- Sagging lids
- Excess skin
- Wrinkles and fine lines
According to statistics released by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, blepharoplasty was 2013’s third most popular cosmetic surgery, with more than 160,000 procedures performed across the country.
In the early 2000s, Cleveland plastic surgeon Dr. Bahman Guyuron noticed some of his blepharoplasty patients mentioning a decrease in migraine symptoms following their surgeries. Intrigued, he began to investigate the correlation. In 2009, a small study appeared in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®, which revealed that 84% of the blepharoplasty patients surveyed reported a major decrease in their migraine pain, and 57% said the pain was completely eliminated. In 2014, a larger study performed by Louisiana State University confirmed the findings of the earlier study. About 51% of patients in the LSU study reported a complete elimination of symptoms, while about a fifth reported a symptom reduction of about 80%.
So why does relief from debilitating migraine headaches come from such an unlikely source? During a typical up
per blepharoplasty, the nerves above the eyelid are released and deactivated. Blepharoplasty seems to achieve the same goal as some endoscopic surgeries for migraine treatment but has the ancillary benefit of creating beautiful, rejuvenated eyelids. Of course, blepharoplasty for migraine headaches isn’t for everyone, including those whose headaches aren’t triggered by nerve compression in this area. If you’re considering the procedure to treat your migraine headaches, your doctor can give you a better idea of how effective it may be for you.
According to the website of Dr. Timothy Miller, a facial plastic surgeon who performs eyelid surgery in the Newport Beach, California, area, upper blepharoplasty is typically a bit less invasive than lower blepharoplasty, leading to a relatively brief recuperation period and extraordinarily discreet scars thanks to incisions hidden within the natural creases of the eyelid. For many people, this means a return to work and other rigors of daily life in less than a week, freed from the symptoms of migraine headaches and enlivened by a smoother, more younger-looking visage.