Bariatric Surgery Promising in Migraine Control: a Controlled Trial on Weight Loss and Its Effect on Migraine Headache

Obes Surg. 2018 Jan;28(1):87-96. doi: 10.1007/s11695-017-2793-4.


Introduction: There is evidence that substantial weight loss through bariatric surgery (BS) may result in short-term improvement of migraine severity. However, it still remains to be seen whether smaller amounts of weight loss have a similar effect on migraine headache. This study has been designed to compare the effects of weight reduction through BS and non-surgical modifications.

Materials and methods: Migraine characteristics were assessed at 1 month before (T0), 1 month (T1), and 6 months (T2) after BS (vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) (n = 25) or behavioral therapy (BT) (n = 26) in obese women (aged 18-60 years) with migraine headache. Migraine was diagnosed using the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHDIIβ) criteria.

Results: There was significant reduction in the visual analog scale (VAS) from the baseline to T1 and T2 in both groups. The number of migraine-free days showed a significant increase within each group (p < 0.001). The BS group had a significant reduction in attack duration (p < 0.001) while there were no changes observed within the BT group. Following the adjustment of ANCOVA models for baseline values of migraine characteristics, age, changes in weight, BMI, body fat, and fat-free mass from T0 to T2, the BS group showed statistically significant lower VAS and duration of migraine attacks and a significantly higher number of migraine-free days than the BT group at T1 and T2 (p ≤ 0.028).

Conclusion: Our results indicated that far before significant weight reduction after BS (VSG), there was marked alleviation in the severity and duration of migraine and a significant increase in the number of migraine-free days in obese female migraineurs. However, the effects in the BT group were not comparable with the effects in the BS group.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Behavioral therapy; Headache; Migraine; Obesity; Vertical sleeve gastrectomy; Weight reduction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery* / adverse effects
  • Bariatric Surgery* / methods
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / surgery*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • Young Adult