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What to Expect after Your Migraine Surgery

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Feb 11, 2015 7:00:00 AM
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and go for migraine surgery, it’s important to know what to expect after the procedure. Most migraine surgeries are performed as outpatient operations, and you’ll be able to go home afterwards unless you have a long distance to travel. The process is done under general anesthetic and typically takes between 1 and 5 hours, depending on the number of trigger sites you have.

Drowsiness after Surgery

Surgery patients typically feel drowsy after a general anesthetic, so don’t plan any social events for the same day as your procedure. If you’re expecting to be discharged afterwards, arrange for a family member or friend to help you to get home, because driving will be unsafe until you’ve fully recovered. Using public transport might be possible, but it’s still best to have someone accompany you than trying to go it alone directly after surgery. You can expect to get home and sleep for a few hours extra until the anesthetic is out of your system.

Pain and Discomfort

While there are several different types of migraine surgeries, none of them require intracranial access, which means the surgeon doesn’t open up your head or move any of the components of your skull. The endoscopic method used is only minimally invasive, which helps reduce the pain and discomfort you’ll experience after the surgery.

Any pain associated with the wound should be gone within 7 days, and by the day after the procedure most patients are able to take a shower if they want to. You might also experience some tenderness in the back of your neck, but this usually lasts only for the first few days. You can expect to have to try different positions for sleeping during this period, and a neck pillow could help you be more comfortable.

Bruising and Swelling

Swelling of the area around the wound site and bruising of the surrounding skin are normal after any type of surgery. Because the method of operation doesn’t require an actual incision this is less than it would be otherwise, and the worst bruising and swelling will disappear during the first two weeks. You might have some inflammation of the area for a few months after surgery, but it isn’t likely to cause you any concern. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories to help reduce the swelling.

Ongoing Headaches

You may still experience some headaches after the procedure, especially during the first month or two following surgery. These usually wear off 3 to 4 weeks afterwards, and aren’t as intense as the original migraines were. You may also feel some numbness and tingling in the back of your head and your temples for the first couple of weeks. It’s best not to do any strenuous activity or lift heavy items during this time.

Possible Complications

Any surgery carries the risk of infection, but with endoscopic surgery the site isn’t exposed in the same way as it is with traditional surgery. There’s also typically less bleeding, which helps to reduce the chances of getting bacteria into the wound. Some of the other possible side effects include an inability to frown, ongoing pain and swelling of the eyes, persistent numbness of the scalp, lasting bruising and a collection of blood in a specific area, called a hematoma.

Migraine surgery has been performed for approximately 10 years now and is delivering good results for sufferers. It doesn’t cure migraine headaches completely in all patients, but 90% of patients enjoy significant relief and a full 50% are migraine-free by a few months after surgery. By understanding what to expect afterwards, you can go into your surgery with the reassurance that you are prepared for the benefits and disadvantages you’ll experience.

patient guide to surgery

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