Migraine Surgery: What You Can Expect

If you constantly suffer migraines and most treatments have been ineffectual, you may be tempted to try migraine surgery. Surgery, in and of itself, has its own risks, but any surgery that targets a health issue in the brain, head, face or neck is especially risky. If you wish to pursue it in spite of the risks, here is what you can expect from this procedure.

Evaluation with a Plastic Surgeon

You read that correctly. A plastic surgeon is typically the one offering migraine surgery. Why? Because a plastic surgeon is the one that developed a series of facial surgeries that diminish the migraine pain of some sufferers. Ergo, your first step is to visit a plastic surgeon that does facial surgeries and offers migraine surgery. He or she will evaluate your facial construction and your desire to reduce migraines/pain.

Schedule Your Surgery

Your plastic surgeon will suggest what approaches to use for your facial construction and migraine issues. This is your treatment plan. You will then schedule your surgery, and take home special instructions to follow on the days leading up to your surgery.

Arrive a Few Hours Before Surgery with a Clean Face

Because many of the techniques involved in migraine surgery require removal of facial muscle, nerve tissues and/or facial skin, you have to arrive to your surgery a few hours beforehand with a clean and/or clean-shaven face. This means no makeup of any kind and no lotions or skin care products. Men are usually instructed to use an electric razor and avoid shaving cream.

The Surgery Itself

In what takes an hour to two or more hours, your plastic surgeon will do one of the following:

  • Cut out a portion of the trigeminal nerve, which controls feeling and movement in your lower face.
  • Cut out portions of your muscles in the back of your neck or the forehead.
  • Remove some tissue from your nose.
  • Inject Botox as muscle contractors around the eyes and face.

Making things taut or removing pieces of the nerve commonly associated with headaches are all approaches that your surgeon may use. He/she may also use more than one of these approaches based on the initial evaluation of your headaches.


Recuperation is the same as if you had a facelift. Your surgeon will let you know how many days it will take before you are healed enough to know if the migraine surgery has worked. Most patients who have had this done report results in as little as a few weeks post-op, but then they also had more frequent headaches.