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Surgical Options

Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction

  • By Jules2dl

    I’ve had chronic daily migraine for 44 years. I recently had a septoplasty (against the advice of 4 neurologists); even the ent said it wouldn’t help the migraines, but I’d breathe easier.
    My triggers have always been hormonal as well as weather related (I had a total hysterectomy solely because I thought it would help my headaches; it didn’t). The turbinates in the nose swell in response to hormones and barometric pressure. I’ve been carrying nose drops in my purse since I was a kid, and every time I lie down my nose gets stuffy. Sure enough, it turns out my septum was so deviated to the right that it actually touched the opposite side of my right nostril, visibly pulling my left nostril towards the right, making it look narrower.
    As it happens, the septoplasty is the only thing I’ve ever done over the course of 44 years which has had a significant positive impact on my migraines. I still get them, but they are not as severe. Over the last 5 weeks I’ve only been down for the count for 4 days, and it has rained a lot more than 4 days in that time. That is an incredible improvement!
    This may not be the answer for every migraineur who also has a deviated septum, but it’s definitely worth a try. It’s an easy surgery, and even if it just helps you breathe easier, it’s worth a try. I had doctors from one of the most prestigious headache clinics in the country advise me strongly against the septoplasty, saying that it couldn’t help the headaches in any way. They were wrong. It’s one more thing to look into.

  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Jules2dl,

    Thank you for sharing your success story with us! I’m so happy to hear you’ve seen a reduction in your migraine frequency – it’s always good to hear positive news!

    Migraine is a neurological genetic disease and reducing our triggers plays a vital role in the management of it. Septoplasty and septum surgery aren’t recommended solely for migraine but having these procedures may reduce these triggers therefore reducing our migraine frequency.

    I’m glad it’s working for you! Keep us posted on how you’re feeling.


  • By oliviaruth

    I have had this same surgery and it has helped with the pain I used to get between the eyes. My septum was very deviated, I had a bone spur, tons of inflammation, and chronic sinusitis, so they had to go into my sinuses too. Definitely not an easy surgery! It’s been 4 months and I’m still recovering.
    Although I still have migraines, this has helped a little bit. I wouldn’t recommend just anyone to go and get their sinuses/septum rearranged though.

  • By Allison

    There is a Dr Kevin Smith in Houston who is an ENT and plastic surgeon who thinks deviated septum with bone spurs are the root of many headaches. A friend of ours had the surgery after being chronic and hasn’t had one migraine since. I have an appt. in a couple of weeks. I’m interested if others have pursued this. I’ve been told by my ENT in Austin that I have a deviated septum and I’ve had sinus issues in the past. Don’t want unnecessary surgery though!

  • By Jules2dl

    Unfortunately, my success after my septoplasty and turbinate reduction was extremely short-lived. Over the summer I continued to have daily migraines which got worse with every weather change.
    The most disappointing thing to me was that the surgery didn’t help the problem with my nose stuffing up at night.
    I definitely feel that the surgery was for nought.

  • By kristenss

    Hi. I have had 3 sinus surgeries. I have seen ENT specialists at Penn Medicine, Geisinger, and others and I have chronic daily headaches/with migraines. I have not achieved any headache relief with my surgeries and all of the many treatment that I have tried. I have chronic inflammation in my sinuses and arthritis in my neck and I have extremely sensitive teeth. I think all of these contribute to my headaches and not any one treatment seems to help.
    I would hesitate to say have surgery, but everyone is different. Just remember to give yourself a lot of time to recuperate from the sinus surgery. I have had several surgeries and even though the sinus is a same day surgery, it is still a serious surgery.
    Good luck!

  • By rosie.smiles

    I had migraine surgery done six weeks ago (with a plastic surgeon in Maine) on my temples, back of head, above my eyes, and nose (I had a septoplasty and partial turbinectomy…is was my second surgery on my septum and turbinates as I also had sinus surgery with an ENT for chronic sinusitis two years ago–it did help my breathing and congestion). It really worked! My head is still sore and numb at some places, but it’s improving. My migraines are SO much better. It’s like night and day difference. Oh, and neither Botox nor nerve blocks helped me before, but the surgery still worked. I got improvement almost immediately. What my doctor does has a 90% success rate and he’s never had anyone get worse. So sorry for all those that weren’t helped or got worse through surgery.

  • By mindwiped

    For me, I had the septoplasty and turbinate reduction /long/ before I started having regular migraines. I had chronic sinusitis, to the point where my primary had me on an antibiotic for the 3 weeks it took to get into the ENT. She took one look up my nose (with just the light they use for your ears, and asked when did I want to schedule surgery? She took a deeper look, since I was there and numbed before she came in, but said that yes, it’s bad, and let’s get this done. I was barely 19, still on my folk’s insurance because I was a college student. I remember using the phone in the schedulers’ office to ask/tell my mom about the need for surgery, which we scheduled a mere ten days in the future, as I had to go back to school in about a month.

    It really helped with the chronic sinusitis, and my father, upon hearing that my surgeon was setting up to retire shortly, had it himself. His septum was much worse than mine.

    As for migraines, I’d never had one before the surgery, and since I’ve now had it, I don’t need it now to help with the migraines, although I’d have it again in a heartbeat if I thought it would get rid of the near daily migraines.

    • By rosie.smiles


      That’s interesting that you started getting migraines after your sinus/nasal surgery. I got chronic migraine not too long after my sinus surgery. I had two surgeries and was sick a lot that year so I didn’t know if it was the stress of all that that gave me migraines, or the work in my nose (the migraine surgeon said the sinus surgery could have made things worse with migraines, but I don’t know for sure…whatever the case my sinusitis was so severe I really needed the surgery), or if I would have gotten chronic migraine anyway then. That was two years ago and I just had migraine surgery two months ago. It worked wonders for me! It helped both my “regular” constant daily headaches, as well as my chronic intractable migraine. Also something to keep in mind is that while ENTs are really good at what they do and the procedures are called the same as what plastic surgeons do in the nose for migraines (at least that’s how it was in my case–septoplasty and turbinate reduction), they are looking at it from the perspective of sinus drainage and breathing, while migraine surgeons (usually plastic surgeons) look at it more from the nerve irritation perspective. Also, my septum was really bad and the first surgery did mostly straighten it out, but it was still off some; then with migraine surgery they worked on it more. I sure hope I am done having surgery up there! 🙂 Also I had surgery for migraine on my temples, above my eyes, and at the back of my head. Most people’s migraine surgeries aren’t that major, by my migraines where extreme. I do hope you get help for you migraines!


  • By 7n4gua

    I too have had daily chronic migraines since I was 6 years old. I’ve been to a zillion neurologists, headache specialists, and pain management doctors over the years. I am now 52 and had the septoplasty and turbinate reduction on October 18th. I cannot believe how much improved my migraines are. This is absolutely amazing. For the first two days after the ENT removed the splints, it actually hurt to breathe. I was not used to taking in this much air and had to get used to the “oxygen overload”. My head used to be the worst during barometric changes, since my surgery I have not had one migraine, especially during barometric changes. I have had a “minor” headache or two, but nothing that two Excedrin couldn’t handle. I highly recommend seeking the advice of an ENT. I would never have imagined that such a simple thing could help my migraines.

    • By rosie.smiles

      Hi 7n4gua,

      Wow, what a success story! Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you’ve gotten results really fast. I had 2 nose surgeries (I had a pretty bad deviated septum)–one for chronic sinusitis, nosebleeds, and breathing problems, and the other one I had as part of migraine surgery. I highly recommend surgery for sinusitis and/or migraines if all else has failed. Going through a surgery and recovery is a great deal better than suffering day after day after day. It’s much better than having to take all kinds of medicine, too, like I was before surgery.

      Glad to hear you’re doing so well. An operation like that really changes your life.

      Take care,