CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina say there's a new way to treat migraine headaches. They've started performing a surgery that, they say, completely eliminates the chronic pain.
So far, they've done the surgery on seven patients. Denise Stout was one of them.
These days, Stout is full of energy. But she hasn't always felt this good. Just months ago, she was suffering from debilitating migraines.
"My children were very upset to see mom in that state," said Stout. "I stopped going to church, I stopped going out and shopping, I stopped working out. We used to own dogs and cats but we got rid of them because I couldn't stand the noise."
Stout says she would spend hours inside, in the dark, desperate to stop the pain.
But, after turning to medical professionals at MUSC for help, that all changed.
Stout says she's finally found relief with the new surgery.
"The surgery is making small concealed incisions at various places of the face and scalp and we are releasing small nerves that travel beneath the skin," said Dr. Kevin Delaney, Assistant Professor of Surgery at MUSC.
Dr. Delaney performs the surgery at MUSC and says it was discovered by a plastic surgeon in Ohio. The doctor found that his patients receiving brow lifts were also relieved from migraines.
Dr. Delaney says they start the patients off with botox treatments, injecting in the same trigger points where the incisions would be made. If the patient gets any relief, that helps the doctors know if the patient would be a good candidate for the surgery.
Depending on where patient feels the pain, incisions can be made in several spots. These include the back of the neck at the hair line, right above the eyebrows, on the eyelids and the temporal region.
The small incisions release tension on the nerves and the trigger sites, that cause migraines. are eliminated, according to Dr. Delaney.
Patients are put under anesthesia, Dr. Delaney says the procedure to last anywhere from one to three hours.
"A lot of patients will see their chronic migraine headaches relieved the next day after surgery," said Dr. Delaney.
Stout said it took her a few weeks to feel back to normal.
"I woke up one morning and my head didn't hurt and it was just like 'my head doesn't hurt!'," said Stout. "I was afraid I was going to jinx it!"
Stout says she has not had a migraine since. She's tossed out the blackout curtains and doesn't need the pain medicine.
"You don't know what its like to live for so long like that and then all of a sudden - you have a life and you don't know what to do first you're so excited," said Stout.
Stout is getting her life back on track. She's got new pets in the house and plans to start a doggie daycare out of her home.
"Now I can make plans, I can set goals and I actually can see down the road," said Stout. "I'm really excited and thrilled to have my life back."
Dr. Delaney says that in the long run, this will save migraine sufferers a lot of time and money because once they have the surgery - they wont need to continue with medication.
Many insurance companies are covering the surgery but if the insurance company won't cover it, Dr. Delaney says MUSC will work with you to make it affordable. If you're interested in learning more about it, check out their website.