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BOTOX® and Surgical Options for Migraine Headache Relief

By Matthew R. Kaufman, MD FACS, The Plastic Surgery Center/Institute for Advanced Reconstruction

I was reviewing migraine statistics on the Internet and was amazed to read that there are over 300 million people worldwide classified as migraineurs – people suffering from migraine headaches. In the United States alone, migraines impact 12% of the population or roughly 4 million people. That is a tremendous number of people suffering through their daily lives with intolerable headaches. People with chronic migraines are dealing with headaches more than 14 days out of every month. I could imagine how a migraine, added to all of life’s other daily challenges, makes it virtually impossible to function at work and at home.

Despite the availability of excellent medical therapies to treat migraines, many individuals just cannot seem to find sufficient relief, even with these medications. Other people may experience some improvement, but cannot tolerate the side effects of the medications.

Botox® therapy for migraine headaches has been around for several years and has more recently become approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a migraine treatment. The FDA promotes the use of Botox® as an effective way to prevent migraine headaches.

When I began treating migraine sufferers with Botox® six years ago, there was a great deal of skepticism regarding its true benefits. Naysayers speculated that patients were coming in to get their wrinkles eliminated under the guise of migraine treatment. It did not take long for these sentiments to change when migraine patients in my practice and others being treated around the country were often noticing dramatic relief from these periodic injections.

Fast forward six years later – now we promote Botox® as a very effective treatment for many patients. Those patients that benefit from injections report they can now get through their day, being productive at work, taking care of family duties, and even resuming an exercise regimen, things that were not possible prior.

Botox® therapy for migraines is best performed every three months as a series of injections into suspected migraine “trigger points”. I find that patients notice the most significant improvements over successive treatments, and that is why I do not deter patients from getting follow-up injections, even if the first or second sessions do not result in much change. The injections are relatively painless and can be performed with minimal concern for pronounced bruising or swelling.

Obviously, not every migraine sufferer will benefit from this form of therapy, however, it may be worth investigating Botox® therapy for migraines if you, or someone you know, is suffering the chronic effects of this common, debilitating condition.

About the Author: Dr. Matthew Kaufman

Matthew Kaufman, MD

A fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Matthew R. Kaufman, MD, specializes in nerve decompression, phrenic nerve surgery, and ventilator dependency. Highly regarded in his field, Dr. Kaufman has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Discovery Health, and CBS News.