Economic impact of migraine headaches on American businesses is staggering

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With more than 28 million Americans suffering from debilitating migraine headaches each year, employers also suffer through missed days from work and reduced productivity.

However, Migraine sufferers who had surgical treatment reduced the amount of time missed from work by 73 percent, according to a study published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Additionally, surgical treatment substantially lowered the annual cost of migraine care for patients, the study found.

"The economic impact of migraine headaches on American businesses is staggering due to the loss of employee time and productivity each year," said ASPS member and study author Bahman Guyuron, MD, clinical professor of plastic surgery, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. "By identifying the trigger areas for migraines and performing targeted surgical procedures, we significantly reduced or eliminated their migraines and the amount of time missed from work."

Patients in the study were injected with Botox® to help determine which muscles in the forehead, or back of the head, triggered their migraines. Once identified, these muscles were then surgically removed.

Prior to surgery, migraine sufferers missed 4.4 days of work per month, according to the study. After surgery, patients only missed 1.2 days per month and the employee out of pocket expense for annual treatment was reduced from approximately $7,612 to $925.

Plastic surgeons successfully reduced the frequency, intensity or duration of migraines for 92 percent of the patients studied. In fact, the surgical treatment eliminated migraine headaches for 35 percent of the patients studied.

"Before surgery, my patients expressed extreme frustration by not being able to gain control of their lives," said Dr. Guyuron. "They wanted to work or spend time with their family. Through our new surgical discoveries, we are able to help the appropriate patients escape the awful effects of migraines and start living their lives again."

Businesses lose approximately $13 billion per year due to migraines, according to a study published in the April 1999 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. In addition, the National Headache Foundation estimates 157 million workdays are lost annually because of the pain and associated symptoms of migraines.

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