NEWORLEANS-- Over the years patients who had plastic surgery on their noses or a brow lift noticed their migraine headaches were gone.
Now doctors think they know why, and they have a simpler solution.
It's a common cosmetic surgery, removing the excess skin that is drooping on the upper eyelids. For some people it can even help them see better.
But now a new study finds that this plastic surgery procedure can be used to get rid of migraine headaches.
'In the proper patients, this can be a very very successful surgery,' said Dr. Oren Tessler, a plastic surgeon at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Tessler said doctors are discovering that the cause of some migraines could be that the sensory nerves coming down from the brain to the face and skin -- on the front, sides and back of the head -- can get compressed.
That can be caused by the muscles, blood vessels wrapping around them, or a tight tunnel where they come through the skull.
He can see the front and side nerves through the incision to remove excess eyelid skin. And during the surgery, under general anesthesia, take the extra step to free them from the compression.
'That's the theory behind why this surgery is so successful, and we know it's very successful in the right group of patients,' said Dr. Tessler.
In the study of 35 patients, 90 percent of migraine patients had more than 50 percent improvement. More than half were migraine free.
'We can see over 50 complete reduction. One hundred percent never have to take medication again. These are patients that were not showing any relief from all known modalities of treatment we have now,' he explained.
Dr. Tessler recently came to LSUHSC from Harvard, so he hasn't performed this eyelid-migraine surgery on any local patients yet. But they are already screening some local migraine patients and expect to perform the surgery in local hospitals in the next three to six weeks.
Some insurance companies may pay for this procedure, since the cost of migraines for doctor visits, medications and missed work is very high.
If your insurance company does not pay, the doctors and hospitals are working to make the procedure affordable.
For more information, call 504-412-1240.