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Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: April 2023

Cefaly® is a device that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an acute treatment of migraine and to prevent migraine. This means it can be used at the beginning of or during a migraine attack. It may also be used daily to prevent migraines from happening. It is approved for people 18 and older.1

How does Cefaly work?

Cefaly is a trigeminal nerve stimulator. The trigeminal nerve runs from the eye socket up to the forehead, just under the skin. Doctors believe this nerve plays an important role in migraine pain.1

Cefaly is placed on the forehead between the eyebrows. It then sends electrical impulses to the trigeminal nerve area. Some people feel a tingling sensation during use.2

How long is it used?

For acute treatment of migraine, Cefaly is used for 60 minutes. People who use Cefaly as a preventative treatment may need to slowly build up to the goal of 20 minutes per day. This can help improve tolerance and reduce side effects. The intensity of the signals varies depending on whether it is used for acute or preventive treatment.2

Cefaly is reusable, rechargeable, and battery-powered.2

How do you use it?

There are 6 steps to using Cefaly:1,2

  1. Clean the skin on the forehead.
  2. Place the electrode provided on the forehead.
  3. Place the Cefaly device on the forehead with its magnets against the electrode.
  4. Choose the acute or preventive program and press the button to start.
  5. Change the intensity of the stimulator as needed.
  6. Remove the device at the end of the session. It automatically shuts off.

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Cefaly include:2

  • Sleepiness
  • Headache after a preventive treatment session
  • Not liking the feeling of Cefaly on the forehead
  • Skin irritation on the forehead

Cefaly should not be used by people with:

  • Implanted metal or medical devices in the head
  • Heart pacemaker or implanted or wearable defibrillator
  • Pain of unknown origin

Talk to your doctor about using Cefaly if you:

  • Are under 18 or over 65 years of age
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Have heart problems
  • Had a recent head injury or ever had a seizure

These are not all the possible side effects of Cefaly. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment. Talk to your doctor about whether Cefaly is right for you.

Other things to know

The intensity of the signals can be adjusted if you feel discomfort. It should only be placed on the forehead. Do not use Cefaly on the neck, chest, or other areas of the body.2

Because using Cefaly may cause drowsiness, you should not use it while driving or any other activity during which falling asleep is dangerous. Since it may cause drowsiness, Cefaly may be used in the evening as part of a relaxing wind-down routine.2

Cefaly’s electrodes must be changed on a regular basis. The device comes with directions, and cleaning and storage instructions. You should not get Cefaly wet.2

Learn more about Cefaly.

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