Techniques more commonly associated with cosmetic eyelid surgery are being used to relieve the pain experienced by migraine sufferers.

Patients who have undergone the treatment have been left with significant pain relief and better-looking eyes as a welcome bonus.

Nerve relief leads to pain relief

Less than ten per cent of people who have had the treatment have not benefited from the pain relief said to be offered by the surgery, which is aimed at decompressing nerves associated with causing migraines.

A study into the technique and its pain relieving effects has been carried out by the Health Sciences Center at Louisiana State University (LSU) in America and the institution’s clinical surgery assistant professor Dr Oren Tessler.

Previously, surgical treatment of migraines was limited to an endoscopic approach, a technique which is not always possible because of a patient’s anatomy or surgeons’ inability to access endoscopes.

The LSU research team discovered that incisions made in the upper eyelid of a selected group of patients, similar to those used in cosmetic surgery, were equally as effective in releasing and deactivating the problematic nerves and had the added bonus of improving appearance.

Harvard surgeons involved

The study, also including medics from the prestigious Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital, has reported positive responses in an impressive 90.7 per cent of the 35 cases studied. Almost a third of patients said that between a half and 80 per cent of their problems had been solved, and 51.3 per cent said that their migraines had been totally stopped and they were looking forward to living pain-free.

Migraine headaches can be hugely debilitating, causing severe pain, nausea and sensitivity to sounds and light. They are often confused with normal headaches but the main and other associated symptoms suffered are usually much more severe.

Migraines are also said to increase the chance of a person suffering a stroke. Sufferers can be forced to miss work and many end up in accident and emergency departments because their symptoms are so severe.

Dr Tessler said that the LSU research had revealed the potential for giving patients an opportunity to live migraine- free, although he admitted that larger studies were still needed.

Migraines have long been seen as somewhat of a medical phenomenon and, even now, the performance of the brain leading up to a migraine is not totally understood. There is an increasing understanding of available techniques which can offer some relief, however, meaning that sufferers no longer have to suffer in silence.

Blepharoplasty explained

The surgical techniques used in the latest study mirror those in eyelid improvement operations. In the world of cosmetic surgery, an eyelid procedure known as blepharoplasty usually aims to help give a person a more youthful and alert appearance. It involves removing surplus fat or skin from the eye area and can even reduce morning puffiness. The cosmetic procedure can be performed on the lower and upper lids.