Lauren’s migraines started when she was just 10 years old. At 13, she was hit by a car while riding her bike, knocking out all of her front teeth and breaking her nose.

Her migraines escalated throughout middle and high school, and by the time she turned 30, her life was overtaken by the migraine headaches. 

Bedridden, she couldn’t eat or see clients at her hair salon. She moved back in with her parents and out of the house she shared with her husband.

She had tried everything – medications, chiropractors, acupuncture, laser treatments, nerve blocks, to migraine infusions.

A client at the salon told her about migraine surgery, but she was skeptical. When she finally reached out to Dr. Guyuron,  he felt confident the surgery would help. 

Hear how Lauren’s life has changed since her migraine surgery with Dr. Guyuron in 2019.

Learn more about migraine surgery

Request a consultation with Cleveland plastic surgeon Dr. Bahman Guyuron


Announcer (00:01):
You are listening to Head On with your host, board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, the pioneer of a life-changing surgery for permanently eliminating migraines and a specialist in plastic surgery of the face, head and neck.

Eva Sheie (00:19):
Well, welcome to Head On. My name is Eva Sheie and I’m actually a Dr. Guyuron’s podcast producer, and the team asked me to stand in and bring somebody very special on the podcast today. And her name is Lauren and she’s a past patient of Dr. Guyuron’s, and her story is remarkable. Welcome to the podcast, Lauren.

Lauren (00:42):
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Eva Sheie (00:44):
I met you last week and I could not stop thinking about what happened to you. So will you tell us first, when did you have the migraine surgery, but then go back in time and start really at the beginning of your journey.

Lauren (00:58):
So I had the migraine surgery in 2019 and it was like a full-blown surgery. There was lots of incisions, but I started getting migraines when I was 10, and that was when I started puberty hit. So genetically my mom kind of knew that I might get them because grandmothers on both sides had ’em really bad, and most people in the family on both sides would get migraines. So I started getting migraines when I was 10, and then when I was 13, I got hit by a car and it was really serious. I was on my bike and the car hit me from the side. So I flew up onto the dashboard and went through or the front of the car and went through the windshield. So it knocked out all the front teeth, broke the nose, broke the roof of my mouth. I mean, it was all just impacted into the head, it was where it hit. But they told me that I couldn’t get permanent teeth or fix anything permanently until I was older because they said I wasn’t done growing, which obviously I wasn’t, I was 13, so.

Eva Sheie (02:08):
You lost a bunch of teeth. So you went through high school without teeth?

Lauren (02:11):
I went through middle school without teeth for the rest of the eighth grade year, and I was the tallest person in my grade except for this one other guy. So it just taught me to not care what people think. But yeah, that was bad. So people were really nice to me though. People at my school were really nice, but I couldn’t play volleyball anymore. No gym. They just didn’t want me to move around too quickly. So we were just focusing on that for a while. But when I was a senior in high school, I started getting these, I would still get migraines off and on, but when I was a senior in high school, I started getting these headaches that were like, it was more than a migraine, but it wasn’t my typical migraine. Usually when I would get ’em, I would get flashing lights, I would get nauseous, I’d have to be in bed for a couple days. These were headaches that were coming the sides of my head. And also it could be coming from the back as well.

And it was like I could point to where it was coming from, but nobody knew what it was. Nobody could tell me that it was nerve damage. So my dentist thought that maybe I had TMJ because it always hurt around my ears so bad. So he helped me with that for a long time and it would kind of come and go. So I dealt with that for a long time and they would prescribe muscle relaxers because everybody just kept thinking it was muscle and it, the nerves were messed up. And I did notice that whenever I would have a lot of nerve pain in those headache areas, the migraines would be worse. I noticed they were correlated, but nobody was actually telling me what the actual problem was. Then when I was 30 is when it really, really, really got bad. I tried everything to fix it.

I tried going to a chiropractor, I tried acupuncture, I tried some kind of laser treatment. I ended up getting a couple nerve blocks done. I did a migraine infusion, and by the time all of this had happened, the only thing left to try was Botox. And that was the only thing. It was like nobody ever had an answer for how to solve all the pain that I was in, but that was when it came to a head and I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t eat my head just felt like somebody was squeezing it really hard all the time, and I would have jolts of pain and it’s really scary when that’s happening to you and nobody can tell you what it is. I always had a normal neurologist. I think she specialized in ms, so it wasn’t the type of neurologist I should have had, but you just never know. So she sent me to the infusion clinic and I did that for three days in a row and the pain didn’t go down at all.

Eva Sheie (04:56):
What were they infusing?

Lauren (04:58):
They were trying to stop a migraine headache. That’s what it was. I don’t know what was in the infusion. I know I got tired, so I fell asleep when it was happening, which that was really all I wanted to do at that time was sleep because nothing else was okay. My marriage was going down the drain, I couldn’t do anything and he didn’t know how to help me. I had to move in with my mom and dad. I couldn’t drive.

Eva Sheie (05:27):
Wait, you were married and you moved in with your parents?

Lauren (05:30):
Yes. It was bad. I could not get out of bed. I couldn’t even stand up long enough to make myself breakfast. It was just like all I did was just lay there all day and I would just pray every day. God either don’t let me wake up or please fix this pain. I have a lot of faith and I’ve had faith when that was what got me through it was having faith because I knew God had a better plan for me than what I was going through. And they were telling me that no one can have a headache every day. That’s not possible. No one’s head can hurt 24 hours a day. That’s not possible. And I was like, well, mine does. So it is possible. And they just said that this pain was psychosomatic. I was thinking it was worse than it actually was. They’re like, well, how’s your home life? How’s things going at home? How’s work? And I’m like, well, it sucks because my head hurts 24/7. Everything’s bad. And I couldn’t do anything. I could not function at all as a human.

Eva Sheie (06:32):
How long were you in this state like that?

Lauren (06:36):
10 months. Yeah, it was so bad, so bad. When you go through something like that, it’s not like you can just snap your fingers and you’re like, oh, I’m better or cool mentally. Even after I had the surgery, I was on pins and needles. I’m just waiting for it to come back. So it’s just mind boggling the way that your brain starts to think when you’re in pain for that long. It’s just like nothing matters, nothing’s funny, nothing’s happy, nothing’s okay. It, it’s really scary. Really, really scary.

Eva Sheie (07:12):
So in this 10 month stretch where you’re back living with your parents, what is your husband doing during this time? Is he coming to visit you while you’re laying in bed?

Lauren (07:22):
Yeah, he was working still and stuff. So yeah, we don’t have kids. I had no pets at the time. Well, I had Guinea pigs, but it wasn’t like I had a puppy or anything. So it was like, thank God for that. I mean, if I had kids who would’ve watched why I feel so bad when people have migraines that have kids, it’s like, oh my gosh, how do you do it?

Eva Sheie (07:46):
And then did you lose weight too during this time?

Lauren (07:49):
Oh yeah. I went from, because I always worked out and was always really active to hike. I went from 185 to within 10 months, the day I had surgery and they weigh you before you go in, I weighed 139, so I drastically because I lost weight, I lost muscle and everybody could see it and everybody was just like, oh my God, what’s going on? Because I was just so skinny and it happened so fast.

Eva Sheie (08:18):
Did they have you on a lot of medication too?

Lauren (08:21):
Yeah. Within that 10 month period, I got put on, well, I already took Topamax, so I was on that, and then they put me on Gabapentin and they loaded me up really fast on that. They gave me 900 milligrams three times a day. So it was like when I stood up, when you’re not eating and you’re taking that much gabapentin, you stand up, you’re like, whoa, you can’t even hardly move. And then they had me on Rizaryptan, naratriptan. I had a nasal spray that would make your head kind of numb, but I mean, it didn’t matter. Nothing works. So of course I have anxiety because I’ve dealt with this my whole life and it’s always on every major event I ever did, going to state board to get my cosmetology license full-blown anxiety because it’s like, can I function? Will I be able to function or will I have such a bad headache that I can’t function? When you have migraines, everything you do, you worry about having a migraine. You’re just like, oh my gosh, will I be okay? Can I get through this? Can I do this? So it’s like I’ve always had anxiety and I’ve contributed to that. I think part of it’s genetic and part of it is obviously you’re dealing with pain.

I was on Zoloft as well. I’ll always be on Zoloft.

Eva Sheie (09:48):
When you’re in this state for this almost a year, what kinds of things could you get out of bed for or did you force yourself to get out of bed for?

Lauren (09:57):
So I own a salon with another girl, and I’ve owned it for almost 10 years now. Her name’s Kelly is the other owner, and she knew I always got headaches and probably, I don’t know, probably once a month I would have to call people to reschedule all their appointments for the day. But like I said, when I turned 30, it was like basically every other day Kelly was calling people to reschedule ’em. And you can’t really work like that when you reschedule somebody and then you get sick again that next time, and then you have to reschedule ’em again, and then you’re like, oh, I’m still sick. I have to reschedule you again. People get pissed obviously. So I would try to get to work for four hours a day. My mom would drive me there. I couldn’t drive. And I said the balance issues were really bad, but I don’t know. Somehow the salon still existed. Kelly was able to keep it together. And there was a couple other girls that worked there too, but that was pretty much the only thing I got out of bed for.

Eva Sheie (11:01):
And you’re still having to stand and do hair for four hours when you are there. So just struggling.

Lauren (11:08):
And my clients would see me and they would just be like, whoa, you’re really thin. What’s going on? And it’s like you have to keep talking about it and it’s like you don’t want to keep talking about it.

Eva Sheie (11:21):
How did you finally get out of this?

Lauren (11:24):
So a girl who I was cutting her hair, I had been cutting her hair for a while, her name was Ashley. She saw what I was going through and she was like, I have a doctor’s name that you should go check out because he works with people that have headaches and his name’s Dr. Guyuron. And I was like, okay, I have nothing to lose at this point. She said he was a plastic surgeon. And I was like, that’s weird. And I was like, okay. So we’ve scheduled a consultation, we went to go see him, and he got me in pretty fast. I think he got me with a couple weeks of scheduling the consultation where with a regular neurologist, it’s going to take you six months probably to get in as a new patient, even just to talk to someone. And Dr. Guyuron’s staff is really nice.

All the people that work there are very compassionate or sweet. So he comes in the room and within about five minutes of talking to him, he said he knew what the problem was and I was just like, yeah, okay, whatever. I could point to where the pain was coming from exactly point to where it was coming from. So he gave me these little mini nerve blocks, I guess it was lidocaine or something, and he injected it in the spots that were hurting. And he is like, all right, we’re going to wait five minutes. And he listens to your head, which is totally different than what anyone else has ever done. How does he do that? He uses an ultrasound and it’s almost like a pen and it’s an ultrasound thing. And the spots that I pointed to, he was like, okay, if we could hear your heart beating in these spots, then we need to hear that to be able to, so he put the pen on there and he kind of was wiggling it around and stuff.

And then slowly you can hear, you can start hearing your heartbeat. And he’s like, okay, mark this spot. And then it was like, what was weird is every spot was exactly parallel on both sides. Then, so the first meeting that we had, there was six spots. So he marks all the spots and then he did the lidocaine. And within, I don’t know, within a couple minutes, my pain level started going down and it was lower than it had been in 10 months. And I was like, oh my gosh. I was like, he understands what I’m saying. He knows what I’m saying. So he came back in the room and I was like, he’s like, do you feel better? The pain level was from a nine to a four. I remember that’s what it went, and I was so happy that he understood what I was saying.

So we scheduled surgery and then before we did the surgery, I was like, okay, I found another spot in the back of my head now that those had settled down, I could tell another spot in the back of my head was, there’s another spot, and it was right in the center of the nape of my neck, and he listened to it again and he couldn’t find that spot at first. And then he was like, are you sure it’s back here? I’m like, yeah, I can point to it. And so he listened again for a little bit more and you could start to hear the heartbeat and he was like, okay, let’s mark it. And that was the big incision. That was the big one up the back of the neck. So basically he was rerouting the whole roadmap of my entire head. So we knew it was going to be a big deal.

I think for most people it’s like one or two incisions and they can get back to work relatively quickly. But for me was they said I would be having surgical pain probably for three weeks, and I was having trouble getting up for three weeks after the surgery just to stand and have energy to do anything. But I knew as soon as I woke up from the surgery or laying in the bed in the recovery room, and I could tell that that pain, granted your head, my whole head was numb at this point, but the pain that was so bad, I didn’t feel that pain. So I knew as soon as I woke up from surgery that something was already different, but it took about, I felt like my recovery was hard just because there was so many incisions and it had a drainage tube in the back of my head because he had to remove so much stuff that it leaves a pocket a gap. So the drainage tube is there to get rid of all that excess fluid in that gap, and then your head will obviously heal back and be nice and flat back there again. But I swear I felt like I had, after the surgery, there was a knot back there swollen. They said that that would go down relatively quickly, but I swear I had that for over a year, just like that swollen, not feeling.

Eva Sheie (16:12):
Can you still find the spots in your head?

Lauren (16:15):
No. I can feel the scars, but I don’t have that type of pain anymore. And I haven’t had a migraine since I had the surgery where it’s the flashing lights. And I mean, I’ve had headaches, especially when I’m on my period, but it’s not like I can still go to work and it passes. It’s not like a 24 hour a day thing.

Eva Sheie (16:40):
Do you still live with your mom?

Lauren (16:41):
No, thank God. So I want to say maybe six months after the surgery had been over was when things really started to go back to a normal life because I was still such a train wreck from being scared that the pain would come back. I was calling his office all the time and asking if things were normal because I didn’t know what to expect because my head felt so, my head was totally numb, and it felt like, it almost felt like you had this weird, huge, hard helmet on your head. It was a very, very, very just really weird feeling. And I mean, it hurt because the nerves grow back. So when my head started to wake up and it wasn’t numb anymore, you feel flashes of pain, like a quick flash of pain, like jolts burning almost felt like bee stings. But then the nerves became, it felt hot and tight and sore was how it felt.

And I was like, that was six months after the surgery. I was like, I’m having problems with the way this is healing. And so he did stem cell injections. He took fat from my stomach and put it literally into my head. And honestly, it was almost like right away it felt better. It wasn’t like that hot sore tight feeling anymore. It was like it felt better. But I mean, when you have a surgery that big, they couldn’t give me a day. They won’t be like, on this day you’re going to feel amazing and you’ll be going back to work or whatever. That’s not how it worked. It’s just time.

Just time. I stayed on the Gabapentin, and I think that that does help a lot with the recovery of the surgery. I’m still on that, and I’ve tried to get off of it before and it didn’t work because it’s like now I have all these baby nerves, even though the surgery has been over almost five years ago, I still have spots on my head are still numb, and then I’ll feel it start to burn real hard, and then it’s like the nerves are growing back right there. And that could be frustrating. It is just an annoying feeling. You don’t want to deal with it, but it’s not like having a migraine.

Eva Sheie (19:09):
I’m sure it’s really annoying, but also how amazing is the human body?

Lauren (19:14):
I know. It’s so weird because you don’t know when: I just thought even two years ago, I’m like, okay, well, I guess the sides of my head are just going to be numb forever because they had never regained feeling on the sides. And then one day that just started firing up and I was like, oh my gosh. I was like, they’re not going to be numb forever. And it just hurts when the nerves go back. It’s just really uncomfortable.

Eva Sheie (19:37):
Have they told you if that’ll eventually just go away once they’re all back?

Lauren (19:42):
Well, they said that it could, but they told me once you’re a year out from surgery, that’s usually where you’ll be. That’s where you’re going to stay. And that’s not what’s happened with me. It’s even now still the sides of my head. The sides behind the ears is what’s, I can tell something’s going on there right now because it’ll get really, really hot and my ears will turn purple.

Eva Sheie (20:06):
Your ears turn purple?

Lauren (20:08):
Yes, where it’s burning, and that’s weird to me. It’s like you can literally feel the heat of those nerves coming through your skin. It’s really weird. It’s really weird. And the fact that my skin will change color while it’s happening is like, whoa. I mean, it’s hot, hot, hot. So I just put a gel pack on it and just a cold pack. I mean it passes, but sometimes it’ll last for a week and then it’ll be totally fine. I won’t have any pain for a week, and then it could fire back up and then I’ll be like, fine. It’s really weird. It’s actually better to be busy when that is happening because if you’re not busy, then you’re focusing on it more. But since I had the surgery, I haven’t called off once because I have a headache.

Eva Sheie (21:02):
What was the first day back at work? Do you remember that?

Lauren (21:06):
Yeah, I remember I had, the first lady I had, her name was Gloria, and she was like, oh my gosh, I’ve been waiting so long for you. And I just like, let’s hope I can make it through this. It was good. I was in a much better mood once I got back to work than I was not working.

Eva Sheie (21:23):
Do you have any regrets about the time between when this started and when you got finally to Dr. Guyuron?

Lauren (21:33):
I regret that I didn’t just go to him first. I regret that I went through different doctors, different neurologists through them for a while because I had Dr. Guyuron’s number and I had actually made an appointment with him, and then the clinic was like, oh, well, we can do a nerve block. That’ll help. And so I canceled the appointment I had with Dr. Guyuron because I’m like, okay, I’m going to do a nerve block, so I’ll cancel this. And then it was just maybe six more months or whatever, nine more months of just getting jerked around through different doctors. And my only regret is I didn’t go to Dr. Guyuron sooner. Dr. Guyuron was the first person in all the years of my life that actually listened to me and was like, yeah, you have a nerve problem. And I was just like, well, what is it called? And he’s like, the surgery is called migraine surgery, but he’s like, your situation is complicated and it’s rare. And he’s like, I think I can fix it. He told me also that if it doesn’t work the first time, he’s like, I will go back in and I’ll fix it. We’ll have plan B. And he’s like, and then we’ll have plan C. So it was kind of like I was just under his wing and I just felt just so comforted.

Eva Sheie (22:51):
And how many miles away from you was Dr. Guyuron this entire time?

Lauren (22:56):
Oh my gosh. He was, I’m so blessed. I know that God intervened in all of this because he made sure that I live close to this man. Some people live, I don’t know

Eva Sheie (23:09):
Around the world.

Lauren (23:11):
Some people live thousands of miles away from him just to get to him. And I live in north Olmsted, Ohio, and he lives in, his thing is in Lyndhurst, Ohio, so basically it’s west side of the east side, half an hour. I don’t know. It’s like 30 minutes and it’s just like I live 30 minutes away from this man. So I was able to have surgery and then go home. And then when I had to come back and see him again the next day just to check up and stuff, it was easy. He’s only half hour away.

Eva Sheie (23:43):
How is your life different now? Five years later?

Lauren (23:47):
So different than it was I was able to get a puppy. I’m able to take care of this puppy. The salon is thriving now. Now it’s just me and Kelly that work there, and it’s doing better than ever. But I mean, everything is different. You don’t have to worry about, can I do this or can I get through that or can I say yes to this activity? I don’t know. It’s basically you’re not afraid to live your life basically. Where before when you have all these headaches, you’re just like, oh my gosh, I can’t commit. Oh my gosh, I don’t know. Oh my gosh. I don’t know.

Eva Sheie (24:23):
Your life revolves around whether or not you’re going to have a headache.

Lauren (24:26):
Yes. That was how it was my whole life. So I just,

Eva Sheie (24:29):
Even your wedding day, did you have one on your wedding day?

Lauren (24:32):
I did not have a headache on my wedding day, but I remember that morning taking a migraine pill just in case I would get a headache. I mean, I would eat those pills, candy, just because I’m like, well, maybe this will help prevent one. And sometimes it didn’t, sometimes it didn’t.

Eva Sheie (24:49):
You mentioned your dentist way back in the beginning of our conversation, and I know he was a great support to you from the time you were really young.

Lauren (25:00):
Yes, and I love that man. He’s in North Royalton, Ohio, but yeah, he was compassionate and he really wanted me to feel better, but surgery was inevitable. Thank God for Dr. Guyuron, because honestly, I don’t think I would even be alive still if he hadn’t fixed what was wrong with me. I didn’t want to be alive and my eyes would hurt. It was like everything just hurt so bad and it was just torture, having to just be awake.

Eva Sheie (25:31):
It’s probably so hard to look back on it and wish you had done it sooner or differently. And when you tell the story in reverse, it’s almost obvious that it was nerves.

Lauren (25:45):
Yes. I feel like why did nobody say, oh, you might have nerve damage, or, oh, your nerves are messed up in your head. And my dentist was actually the one that was like, I’ve done all I can do. I don’t think I can fix this problem for you anymore. And he was like, I’ve done, all I can do is I don’t know what else to tell you. And also, I went to a acupuncturist. He’s in Berea, Ohio where my salon is, and he also said, your doctors are telling you that you have a problem and it’s coming from your head and your jaw. He goes, but they don’t really know that that’s what’s happening. He said, that’s what they’re telling you. He’s like, but it could be something else. I also went to a doctor. I had a consultation with a doctor in Cleveland, and she specialized in trigeminal neuralgia.

So that’s this part of the face where it’s hurting, and I mean, it’s nerve pain. It would be horrible to have that in your face too. And she said, okay, you don’t have trigeminal neuralgia, but you have some kind of neuralgia. She’s like, but I don’t know. I don’t know how to fix this. And she was going to put a wire in my head to stimulate the nerves or make ’em do something different. So that was another option I had, but I was like, I don’t know. I don’t think that’s going to work. I just didn’t like the way that sounded.

Eva Sheie (27:16):
She was honest about not being sure though. She was saying, you could try this.

Lauren (27:22):
Yeah, she was honest. When I met Dr. Guyuron, I told him about that. I said, well, what do you think about this? And he said, whether you have this migraine surgery with me or not, or whether you have it with someone else, whoever you have it with, he said, do not put that in your head. He said, it will not make you feel any better. He said, I can guarantee you that right now. And he was being honest too. He’s not just trying to get people to have surgery to make money. He legitimately wants people to feel better. So that was when I knew I was like, alright, let’s do surgery for sure.

Eva Sheie (27:57):
I think he’s on a mission, and I think your story is part of that mission, and I’m really, really grateful to you for being so open about it and sharing it with us.

Lauren (28:07):
Yeah, thank you. If this podcast and what you’re doing helps even just one person, it’s worth doing. I mean.

Eva Sheie (28:15):
I agree.

Lauren (28:17):
People need to know about what is out there. They don’t have to deal with pain constantly. And even if the surgery, if you feel like it’s not good enough the first time or whatever, he won’t give up on you. He will help you.

Eva Sheie (28:33):
Well said.

Announcer (28:36):
Links to learn more about Dr. Guyuron and anything else mentioned on this podcast are available in the show notes. Head On is a production of The Axis.

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