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Weight Loss Surgery Shown to Alleviate Migraines for Obese Patients

If you suffer from migraine headaches and are obese, bariatric surgery may be the answer to both conditions.

According to a recent study, overweight people who suffer from frequent and severe migraines can significantly reduce the incidence of migraines after having either the Lap Band surgery or gastric bypass bariatric procedures.

It has long been known that obesity compounds the pain of migraines, but until now no research had been done to prove that weight loss surgery could successfully deal with this problem.

Conducted at Brown University, the study examined 24 seriously obese patients, the majority of them female, who also complained of intense migraine headaches on a fairly frequent basis. Half of the study participants reported having nearly disabling migraine headaches on 11 out of every 90 days, saying that the headaches prevented them from going to work and completing everyday tasks.

All of the patients had either gastric bypass surgery or Lap-Band surgery. After six months, the average weight loss total amounted to 66 pounds. During this period, the participants reported having migraines only 6.7 days out of every 90, and the participants whose headaches were interfering with normal daily life totaled only 12.5%.

The researchers concluded that after six months, the amount of weight lost was in direct correlation with the level of improvement in headaches among all participants.

Though this study proved the connection between obesity and migraines, it is still not known exactly why these powerful headaches are triggered by obesity. It is known that obesity leads to a higher level of inflammation in the body, and some researchers have theorized that this excess inflammation is the cause.

Others believe that the excess fat cells in an obese person are releasing extra estrogen into the bloodstream, and that this hormone that is responsible for headache pain. Regardless, it is widely believed that losing excess weight will help alleviate the frequency and intensity of migraines.

For the study, participants gave information about their individual experiences with migraines based on their memories of severe headache episodes and how the migraines impacted their lives. Due to this, the researchers recommended that the approach to future studies be changed.

The researchers cautioned that the results were based on the patients' recall of their headaches, which has the potential for error, and that future studies should be launched prior to weight loss surgery. In such studies, patients will be required to keep a daily headache journal that records frequency and severity of headaches, along with the patients’ emotional response to their condition.

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