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Study Shows the Benefits of Botox for Migraine-sufferers

Posted: August 10, 2009

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If the trigger sites responded to the Botox, which lasts about six to eight weeks, then the patients underwent surgery to remove the trigger areas. Forty-nine patients were randomized to receive "real" surgery and 26 to "sham" surgery. The surgeries differed depending on the trigger points.

"For the patients with forehead headaches, we removed the frowning muscles. That's why they look better, more cheerful," explained Dr. Bahman Guyuron, lead author of the study and professor and chairman of the department of plastic surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

Those with temple headaches underwent an operation on a small nerve, which also lifted their eyebrows. And, for those with a back-of-the-head trigger, Guyuron replaced a small amount of muscle around the occipital nerve with fatty tissue to shield the nerve from being squeezed by the muscle.

After one year, almost 84% of patients receiving actual surgery reported a reduction in migraines of 50% or more while slightly more than 57% said that their migraines had completely disappeared, versus 57.7% and 3.8%, respectively, in the sham group.

Some patients did experience temporary numbness in parts of the face, said Guyuron, but it usually went away. "One thing that's impressive is the migraine-free rates," Lipton said. "The other thing that was impressive is they did a year of follow-up. Usually, everything is placebo-responsive but those responses are usually short-lived. A year is really impressive."