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About the Program

Migraine surgery may be an effective treatment for patients whose symptoms do not respond to medications or other interventions. The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s Migraine Surgery Program at Massachusetts General Hospital offers novel surgical procedures to treat migraine headaches.

Long-Term Relief from Migraine Symptoms

Researchers have found that sensory nerves in the face and neck can sometimes trigger migraines and neuralgias. Once these nerves are irritated or stimulated in some way, they can trigger a chain reaction culminating in a migraine attack.

Surgical treatment can provide a long-term solution for patients who are severely or chronically affected by migraines. A recent Mass General study shows significant migraine symptom relief more than 90% of the time for patients that underwent nerve decompression migraine surgery.

During surgery, we use minimally invasive techniques to decompress nerves irritated by surrounding tissue. Depending on where the pain is triggered, we release nerves in the region of the eyes and forehead, as well as on the back of the head. If necessary, we may address nasal trigger points through septoplasty, a surgical procedure for repairing deviated septum.

Our Approach to Patient Care

If you would like to be considered for migraine surgery at Mass General, you must first:

  • Be seen by a neurologist and diagnosed with migraine disease
  • Obtain a referral from your neurologist for evaluation for surgical treatment
  • Report side effects or unsuccessful results from other treatment options

Patient Surveys

Please complete the following surveys to help us determine if you are a candidate for migraine surgery at Mass General.

PART 1: Download and complete our migraine pain location survey and email the results to: EYDUNN@mgh.harvard.edu. This is an important part of the screening process

PART 2: Complete our migraine surgery screening survey online

You may also print and fill out the following surveys, and fax the results to 617-726-8089:

You may also mail the surveys to:

William G. Austen, Jr., MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street, Wang 435
Boston, MA 02114

If you have any questions, please call us at 617-724-9922.

During your Consultation

Our goal is to give you a realistic picture of what to expect so that you can make an informed decision. The surgeon will review:

  • Your medical history and treatment goals
  • Treatment options, including risks and benefits
  • Any medications, vitamins and herbal supplements that you take as well as dosages

The surgeon will also go over the details about surgery, such as:

  • Anticipated results
  • Hospital care
  • Postoperative recuperation
  • Use of anesthesia


Migraine surgery typically takes an hour or two. The simpler forms of this procedure may take place in an office setting, while migraines sparked in the septum or occipital nerve are addressed in the operating room. All patients can go home the same day.

Recovery Time

Most patients return to work in about a week. You may experience relief from migraine symptoms immediately after surgery or in up to four weeks.

Clinical Trials

Acute Stress Response in Migraine Sufferers