If you are considering or scheduled to have Gamma Knife radiosurgery, you are probably wondering about the recovery time and potential side effects.
The good news is most people are back on their feet — and back to their regular activities — within a day or two of treatment. Because Gamma Knife is noninvasive, you will not have to manage surgical pain or worry about lengthy work and activity restrictions.
However, as with any medical procedure, you may have side effects after Gamma Knife radiosurgery. These side effects are usually mild and temporary.
Below, we have highlighted two key ways you can manage side effects and increase your chance of a smooth recovery.
1. Take Care of Your Pin Sites
During your Gamma Knife treatment session(s), you may need to wear a lightweight titanium device called a head frame. It keeps your head still during treatment, so the radiation stays on target.
To keep the head frame in place, we will secure it to your head with four tiny pins. We will use numbing medicine on your scalp, so you do not feel the pins. When we remove the head frame, you may have tiny scalp bruises at each pin site, as well as forehead swelling that normally subsides within 72 hours.
You can reduce your risk of infection in these pin sites by:
- Keeping your scalp clean and dry for 24 hours after treatment. After 24 hours, you can gently wash your hair.
- Waiting until the pin sites are fully healed before using hair styling products or hair dye.
Your pin sites should heal within one week. During this time, it is normal to have minor bleeding, itching, tenderness or bruising. However, you should contact your provider if you have major redness or swelling, develop a fever or notice fluid leaking from the pin sites.
2. Follow Your Treatment Plan
Depending on your condition, you may need additional treatment after completing Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
For example, if have a cancerous brain tumor, you may also need treatments such as immunotherapy (cancer-fighting medicine). It is normal for people with cancer to receive a combination of treatments.
If you have a noncancerous condition that you have historically treated with medication, you may need to continue taking your medicine until your symptoms go away. After Gamma Knife radiosurgery recovery, it can take weeks or months for the benefits to take effect. So, for instance, if you have trigeminal neuralgia, you might need to stay on your pain medication until your pain goes away.
It is also important to attend all follow-up appointments recommended by your providers here at the Valley Gamma Knife Center. These visits allow us to monitor your progress and make sure your treatment(s) worked.
A member of our care team will give you detailed instructions on caring for your pin sites, stopping or starting medications, scheduling follow-up appointments and more.
If you have any questions about your recovery after Gamma Knife radiosurgery, do not hesitate to call us at 201-634-5610.