Update on the Cefaly Device (The Migraine Girl's Perspective)
It’s been over a year since I last wrote anything about my Cefaly headband, and I wanted to tune back in and let everyone who’s interested know how it’s working for me. (Looking to see what it looks like to wear the headband? Check out my video from May 2016 here.)
To my happy surprise, I have nearly 100% treatment adherence when it comes to the Cefaly. I can count on one hand the number of nights I have not used it—and I find this quite impressive considering I’ve been using this daily preventive treatment for over eighteen months. That’s a year and a half! If only I could stick to other lifestyle changes with such success.
Cefaly model updated
Since I bought my Cefaly headband aka Cefaly 1, the company has created a less cumbersome model called the Cefaly 2. The Cefaly 2 is little device you slide onto the electrode instead of a Star Trek-style headband that forms a half-oval around your head. From what I understand, Cefaly will continue making the electrodes for the headband for the foreseeable future, but I plan to keep an eye on that so I can stock up before they switch entirely to the electrodes made to work with the newer model. Who knows? By then I may need a new Cefaly device anyway. I mean, these things can’t last forever, right?
FDA approved as a daily preventive
I love my Cefaly and, while I haven’t seen a dramatic decrease in the frequency of my migraine attacks, they have certainly been less severe since I began using the Cefaly each day. It's also now FDA-approved as an acute migraine treatment, so I put it on during persistent migraine attacks that aren’t responding well to meds. I can relax and rest while it’s on, and I end up doing multiple 20-minute cycles to keep my mind off the headache itself. To be clear: in some other countries, the Cefaly is approved to be a daily preventive technique and has another setting for migraineurs to use during an attack, aka “acute treatment.” In the United States, the device is FDA-approved as a daily preventive and as an acute treatment. Before Cefaly was FDA-approved as an acute treatment, I was told by two migraine specialists who have mentioned to me that they would use the U.S.-version of the device during attacks, so I felt okay taking this risk. Please do not do this without explicit permission from your doctor, and remember that I’m just a patient like you and not a medical professional.
Experiencing a higher trigger threshold
The main thing I’ve noticed since starting my daily Cefaly routine is that my trigger threshold is much higher. In most cases, I can now tolerate fluorescent lights and loud noises for a longer duration than I used to be able to. I can’t say for sure these improvements are Cefaly-related, but there’s definitely a correlation there.
Electrodes and battery life
Happily, the electrodes and the batteries last significantly longer for me than the Cefaly website and instruction booklet suggest. The Cefaly 1 uses two AAA batteries, and I’ve only changed them out a couple of times since I first made my purchase. (Cefaly 2 uses a rechargeable battery.) The electrodes for both models can be bought on the Cefaly website, and I recommend purchasing a few multipacks at once so you never risk running out. They have two kinds for sale, one with a hypoallergenic blue gel. For me, the blue gel ones don’t stay sticky for as long a time as the regular ones, and my sensitive skin isn't damaged by the original electrodes, so I probably won’t get the blue gel ones again.
Electrode gel optional
Some of my migraine buddies have bought electrode gel at a medical supply store in order to extend the performance their Cefaly electrodes. Cefaly doesn’t necessarily encourage this, but I don’t see why using electrode gel would be a bad thing (even though Cefaly won’t be making as much money from us!). One community member told us that refrigerating the electrodes extends their life--I haven't tried that, but I'm going to!
Feeling a relaxing sensation
As far as the device’s effects go, I still find comfort in its strange sensations and haven’t had to interrupt the 20-minute duration since my early days of using it. My forehead has a red mark on it after I take off the Cefaly, but the mark goes away quickly and doesn’t leave a lasting mark or irritated area. (I have psoriasis, so I’m relieved the electrodes don’t aggravate my sensitive skin.) My husband laughs at how often I fall asleep wearing it—the sensations must do something to my brain to lull it into relaxation because when I get into bed to read while wearing it, I don’t get many pages turned before I doze off. I often wake to Jim gently lifting it off my head and putting it back in its carrying case.
Physically, the headband is a small, lightweight item, and wearing it doesn’t hurt my sensitive head. The new model is even tinier and lighter weight. I find it most effective to put it on and not move much, as I have found that moving around may make the electrode disconnect from the Cefaly itself—and, when that happens, you hear loud beeps and have to start the session over from scratch. So I’d advise you use the twenty minutes to relax, read, write in your journal, or do some mindfulness.
How many of you are using the Cefaly? Which model do you have, and how are you liking it? Are you finding it effective?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?