Hair Transplantation in Migraine Headache Patients

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Abstract

Background:

Migraine headache is a primary neurologic disease affecting millions of people worldwide. As a consequence, quality of life is diminished, productivity suffers (through loss of work force), and treatment costs are substantial. The occurrence rate in the general population is quite high, with women accounting for 3 of every 4 cases.

Methods:

Between January 2011 and May 2012, a total of 221 patients received hair transplants. Another 590 patients underwent hair transplantation between June 2012 and December 2016. Initially (first interval), patients were not questioned on migraine headaches in preoperative visits, but questioning was regularly done thereafter. Overall, 150 patients given transplants in the first period were surveyed by phone regarding preoperative migraine headaches. Aside from the 1 incidental discovery, no other instances of migraine emerged. Headache origins were occipital-frontal in 2 patients, occipital-temporal in 2 patients, and occipital-temporal-frontal in the 2 others. Donor/receiver areas in hair transplantation and migraine trigger zones shared locations. Headache frequencies ranged from 4 to 8 days per month (average, 6 days), and pain scores were 5–8 (10 being highest). Duration of pain was 3–5 hours (average, 4 hours). All six patients had used various medications, such as triptans, ergot, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, before hair transplantation. The 1 female patient was a 32-year-old seeking treatment for alopecia, with a 6-year history of migraine headaches. The male patients presenting with androgenetic alopecia (grade 4–5 by Norwood classification) had 6- to 20-year migrainous histories.

Results:

After hair transplantation, each migraine sufferer was checked once in the first month and then once every 3 months. Those who could not appear in person after the first year were evaluated by phone every 3 months. Migraine headaches had ceased in all 6 patients, none of whom used medical treatments for migraines thereafter. The postoperative improvement each patient experienced was dramatic (P < 0.001). Overall, the mean intensity of headaches declined from 6.6 ± 1.47 to 0, on an analog scale of 1–10 (P < 0.001); and mean headache frequency was reduced from 5.83 ± 1.03/month to 0/month (P < 0.001). Likewise, the migraine pain index fell from a mean of 149.33 ± 19.21/month to mean of 0/month (P < 0.001).

Conclusions:

This report details 6 patients who experienced abatement of migraine headache symptoms following hair transplantation. The positive effects of hair transplantation on migraine headache and potential mechanisms of action are also discussed.

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