Migraine surgery offers new possibilities for sufferers who have exhausted all other options. Just because there isn’t a provider in your city is no reason not to consider it.
Here’s what you need to know to get relief for your headaches.
Deciding to Have Migraine Surgery
First, you’ll need to determine whether you’re a candidate for surgery. To do this, you’ll need to evaluate:
- How often you experience migraine headaches, their severity and the effect on your life.
- The cost of the procedure and what you can expect your insurance to cover.
- The potential benefits of the surgery and your risk, based on any other health conditions you may have.
You’ll need to undergo an examination by our doctors. If you aren’t able to attend one of our locations for the consultation we may arrange a Skype or telemedicine interview with you.
Making Travel Plans
Once you’re accepted for surgery, you can begin making plans to travel. Our friendly team makes every effort to accommodate patients from out of town.
Our offices are located conveniently close to major airports. We work with you to ensure that the accommodation you choose is near to the surgery center, so you don’t have long distances to travel. Although the migraine surgery is a day procedure and you won’t have to stay overnight, you will need to rest for at least 24 hours before traveling home.
We’ll also help you identify services such as car rental that are conveniently located, and work with you to ensure that your arrangements are customized to match your surgery date.
Making the Trip
For migraine sufferers, travel can be stressful. Whether you’re going by air or by car your trip can be filled with lurking migraine triggers. Some of the common ones to watch for are in-flight air pressure changes, altitude, humidity and dehydration, different foods, skipping meals and time zone changes.
Tips for a smooth trip include:
- Stick to your regular routine as much as possible, so your body doesn’t react by developing a migraine.
- Carry high protein snacks and water with you, so you can stay hydrated and take migraine medication with food if needed.
- Bring double your usual quantity of medication. If necessary, get a “vacation override” from your pharmacy so you can bring additional quantities with you.
- Pack enough medication for the actual traveling time in your carry-on luggage so it’s easy to reach.
- Ask your doctor for a summary of your care to carry in case you need emergency treatment while traveling. This enables a doctor unfamiliar with your case to review your history.
- Avoid known migraine trigger foods, such as processed meats, alcohol and anything else specific to your condition.
- Plan to arrive at least a day (or two) before your surgery so you can relax and take it easy, particularly if your surgery center is in a new climate or time zone.
These tips will help you make the most of the journey and enjoy some of it as a vacation, instead of being purely a medical necessity.
What to Expect on Arrival
On your arrival, you’ll fill out paperwork with the necessary information. This includes answering questionnaires, sharing diaries on your condition and giving permission for access to your medical records.
You’ll be required to give consent for images such as CT scans, MRIs or MRAs, and meet with the surgeon for a decision. This is based on the anticipated benefits for the patient versus the risks. At this time, the doctor will determine which type of migraine surgery is right for your situation, and make his recommendations.
After the Surgery
Migraine surgery is done under general anesthetic and typically takes between one and five hours. The surgery is performed using non-invasive, endoscopic methods, but you can expect to have some bruising and swelling around the site. This may be accompanied by some pain and discomfort for the first few days, which will disappear after about two weeks. You might also experience a numb sensation or tingling in your scalp.
You’re likely to experience some drowsiness after the migraine surgery, so you won’t be able to drive. You’ll need to be taken to your hotel to rest up and recover. A day or two after your surgery, the medical team will work with you to finalize your return travel plans based on the success of the procedure.
It takes three to four weeks for the migraines to wear off after surgery, and only 50% of all patients experience complete elimination of the headaches although 90% have significant relief a few months after the procedure.