Migraine Quiz

Can bariatric surgery help migraine?

Migraine and Obesity Related

It has been well-established that there is a connection between obesity and migraine headaches. The number of headaches a month is higher in the overweight, and even higher in the obese population. The reasons for this are complex, and are still being studied by scientists to figure it all out—but it looks like at least part of the reasons have to do with creating an environment of increased inflammation.

So, we know that, basically, the fatter you get, the more migraine headaches you are likely to have. What has been less clear is whether weight loss can reverse this trend.

A small study was done of severely morbidly obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery.  Twenty-four patients with a BMI of 35 or greater were identified with migraine headache by using the ID-Migraine Screener. Migraine severity was measured with the Migraine Disability Assessment Scale (MIDAS). A 50% reduction in the number of headache days was seen after surgery. Prior to surgery, half the patients reported moderate or severe disability from their migraines; this number dropped to 3 patients after surgery. Headache improvement occurred with weight loss even though, during the time of the study, many participants were still in the obese range of weight.

Postoperative complications after bariatric surgery can be significant, and living after bariatric surgery can be challenging as the rate of vitamin deficiencies is high, and can result in neuropathies and other neurologic problems. While weight loss may be beneficial for the prevention of medical conditions related to obesity, it is premature to recommend it solely for migraine.

References:

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8. Bond DS, Vithiananthan S, Nash JM, Thomas JG, Wing RR. Improvement of migraine headaches in severely obese patients after bariatric surgery. Neurology. 2011;76(13):1135 -1138. Available at: http://www.neurology.org/content/76/13/1135.abstract.