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6 million people suffer from migraines in the UK, with an estimated 190,000 migraine attacks experienced every day in England! Pounding headaches, nausea and sensitivity to light are just some of the symptoms that make life harder for those of us who suffer.

However, an innovative surgical treatment could be the solution to help tackle this debilitating condition. This week we speak to Mr Damir Kosutic, an award-winning Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and a specialist in the field of ‘Migraine Surgery’ about the condition and this valuable procedure.

What is a migraine?
In its basic form, a migraine is a severe headache that is often felt as a throbbing or pounding pain affecting one side of the head, most often temple or forehead. However, for many, this is accompanied by other severe symptoms including nausea or sickness and sensitivity to light or sound. For some, there are warning signs before a migraine kicks in, for others the pain descends without any pre-warning. 

How is it caused?
The cause of a migraine is a hotly debated topic! Genetics and temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain have all been noted as potential causes. Even some common types of food like chocolate or cheese are known to trigger attacks in many patients.  However, within the field of cosmetic surgery, it has become clear that there is a direct correlation between the anatomy of certain sensory nerves in the face and neck and migraine triggers. For many patients who undergo certain procedures like brow lifts or Botox, we can see a substantial reduction in headaches and migraine episodes. This would suggest that migraine pain is caused by irritation of these sensory nerves by dilated vessels or muscles under tension. These nerves become irritated when surrounding tissues apply pressure, the result is a pounding headache. 

What is migraine surgery?
Migraine surgery is an innovative new procedure that seeks to reduce or eliminate the frequency and severity of headaches by releasing the compression of these trigger nerves, either by blocking the pain signals or by correcting the tissue surrounding the nerves themselves.

Surgery is tailored to the individual patient based on their specific trigger points. Working with you, your surgeon can identify the most common trigger sites and ensure the procedure focuses on these. The trigger area may be:

  • Frontal: when you get pain above your eyes or forehead, or
  • Temporal: where you feel pain over your temples, or
  • Rhinogenic: where pain can be felt behind the eyes and inside your nose, or
  • Occipital: where the pain radiates around your skull to behind your eyes.

For some, it is a combination of these sites that come together to create an intense migraine.

Surgery is performed as a day case under local or (usually) general anaesthesia and usually takes one to two hours. Surgery may take longer for patients with multiple migraine triggers and particularly if they are on different areas of the head. It is important to note that the surgery is not on the brain and the surgeon does not remove or go through the skull bones. Most scars in this procedure are well hidden and aesthetically pleasing.

How do I recover?
Most patients will need to spend two days relaxing post treatment to heal. For two weeks after treatment, patients should ensure they do not exert themselves too much by avoiding intense exercise. It will take 1-2 weeks for wound to heal. Most patients are able to return to their usual activities in the same time frame. 

Who is it for?
In the first instance, you need to be diagnosed with migraine. Not all headaches are migraines but if you have been diagnosed with migraine and you have not had relief from your prescribed medications, you may arrange a consultation with a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon with special interest in this field, to discuss the surgical option. Your surgeon will discuss your treatment goals, medical history, severity and frequency of your migraines and treatment history so far. They may arrange some imaging to obtain more information and plan surgery more accurately. If you have had botulinum toxin injections (such as Botox) in the past and if they have provided you relief, that bodes well for your candidature for migraine surgery.

How much does it cost?
Costs will vary depending on the trigger areas requiring treatment, however prices start at £2,500 and would not exceed £5,500 for most difficult cases.

If you suffer from migraines and are eager to find relief, head on over to nowme.co.uk and book your consultation with Mr Damir Kosutic now to explore whether the surgery could be the right solution for you.