It’s estimated that 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men suffer from migraine headaches, making this debilitating condition more common than asthma and diabetes combined. Migraine headaches can lead to nausea, visual disturbances and incapacitating pain that can last for several days and the impact of these headaches on patients’ day-to-day lives can be devastating.

Patients who suffer from migraine headaches have tried countless medications and therapies, yet few know about the possibility of a permanent solution with migraine surgery. Over 90 percent of patients who have migraine headache surgery experience an improvement in the number, length and severity of their migraine symptoms and approximately 35 percent of these patients experience complete relief of their migraines.

migraine surgery patient

In 1999 one of Dr. Lowenstein’s mentors, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, discovered that some of his patients experienced relief from their migraine headaches following brow lift surgery. After this discovery, Dr. Guyuron investigated and found that out of 39 patients who had suffered migraines prior to their surgery, 31 experienced a significant improvement or elimination of their migraine headaches.

The subsequent development of nerve decompression surgery, more commonly known as migraine surgery, has enabled many more patients to receive significant relief from their migraine headaches. Dr. Lowenstein himself is proud to offer migraine surgery in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast of California.

Is surgery right for my migraine headaches?

If you meet the following characteristics, then you may be a good candidate for migraine surgery:

You have been diagnosed with chronic migraines by a neurologist
You don’t feel that you have control of your headaches
You routinely have more than two migraine headaches per month
You have tried several different therapies, such as behavioral changes and medication, without success.
You are physically healthy

Visit Dr. Lowenstein’s Migraine Surgery Specialty Center Website to Learn More about Migraine Surgery in Santa Barbara

What to Expect from Migraine Surgery by Dr. Lowenstein

During your migraine surgery consultation, Dr. Lowenstein will review your history, your symptoms and your current complaints regarding your migraine headaches. While not all migraine headache patients are candidates for surgery, Dr. Lowenstein will discuss the treatments you have already received and what else you can do to treat them in the future.

If you are experiencing a headache at the time of your consultation, Dr. Lowenstein may perform a nerve block when you come in. If not, the use of Botox in the suspected trigger points (areas of compressed nerves) may be performed to see if this offers temporary migraine relief. Patients who respond favorably to nerve blocks or Botox injection are the best candidates for surgery.

migraine treatment patient

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Migraine Surgery in Santa Barbara Overview

Surgical nerve decompression for migraine headaches is performed by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lowenstein at our state-of-the-art private surgery facility in Santa Barbara. Migraine surgery is an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia.

It’s important to note that migraine surgery is not brain surgery, and as such does not involve any surgery on the brain or skull bones. Some migraine headaches, such as those arising in the frontal or forehead regions, can even be performed in conjunction with cosmetic procedures of the eyelids and brow, though this is not necessary.


What Are Migraine Headaches?

Migraine headaches are often described as severe headaches that have debilitating symptoms including severe pain, visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting and exhaustion.

Migraine headaches are best diagnosed by a neurologist and are a different entity than normal headaches which are usually much less severe. Migraine headaches may be disruptive to your lifestyle, your work, your family, and your social life.

How Are Migraine Headaches Treated?

Migraine headaches can be treated with drugs, Botox, surgery or alternative therapies like acupuncture. The usual medications that can be used to treat an active headache include triptans such as Maxalt, Imitrex, Zomig, Amerge, Axert, Frova, and Relpax, ergots such as DHE, Midrin, narcotics and barbiturates.

How Can Botox Treat Migraine Headaches?

Botox was approved by the FDA for the treatment of migraine headaches in adults and can be used in either a multiple injection technique around the head or in a nerve target technique.

When a nerve target technique is used and Botox treatment is effective, then this is an indicator that migraine surgery will be a successful option for permanent relief of migraines.

How Can Migraine Headaches Be Prevented?

Most patients seeking migraine surgery have already tried the medications and therapies listed above. For some, these methods may be effective and an excellent option. For others who have decided to explore the possibility of migraine surgery, these methods have been entirely unsuccessful. Migraine surgery can physically treat what medications try to alleviate chemically.

Who Is at Risk of Migraine Headaches?

Migraine headaches are more common than previously thought. Nearly one in every five women experience problems with migraine headaches, though men can also be subject to migraines.

In fact, Dr. Lowenstein himself is one of the six percent of men who have had migraine headaches all of his life, and treatment of his migraines has had an amazing impact on his life. This is one of the principal reasons that Dr. Lowenstein is so interested in bringing migraine surgery to Santa Barbara.

What Is the Success Rate of Migraine Surgery?

Many studies have shown excellent success rates for migraine surgery. Migraine surgery success is defined as the complete elimination of migraine symptoms or more than a 50 percent decrease in the symptoms associated with migration headaches.

These studies have also shown that surgery success rates vary between 70 percent and 90 percent, with roughly 30 percent of patients finding total relief from their migraine headaches.

What Are the Potential Risks of Migraine Surgery?

You can rest assured that with a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Lowenstein, migraine surgery risks are extremely unlikely. Any complications of migraine surgery are often minor and temporary, including numbness or itching of the incision site. Scarring from migraine headache surgery is minimal, and any incisions are placed in well-hidden regions.

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