Living with migraines can be an incredibly challenging and debilitating experience. As someone who has suffered from migraines for years, I’ve tried various treatments and remedies in search of relief, and this CEFALY review reflects that.
I received a CEFALY migraine treatment device, and some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
As a caveat, I am not a doctor and am not offering medical advice but sharing what has worked for me personally. Please be sure to discuss your migraines with your doctor and follow their advice.
What is a Migraine?
Migraines are intense headaches often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. They can last for hours or even days, significantly impacting your daily life.
I experience migraines when am around chemical scents, when I spend too much time in the sun, when I don’t sleep enough, when I don’t drink enough, when the weather changes, when I eat or drink the “wrong” thing, when I’m in fluorescent lighting too long, and so forth. I suffer from them 10-15 days per month, which is more than my prescription medication can handle but less than what allows my insurance to cover botox, the solution my mom uses successfully.
A migraine is far more than “just a headache.” When I get them, even my hair hurts.
What I’ve Tried Before
Every person reacts to migraines differently. There are times when no solution has touched them and all I can do is lie down in a quiet, dark room and try to sleep until it goes away.
I have a daith piercing that helps me tremendously. It decreased the severity and frequency of my migraines, but I still get them. Now I have a little time I can still function when they start, and I get less nauseated.
My neurologist has prescribed me a variety of medications to treat the migraines and prevent them, and I have a medication I can take, but my insurance doesn’t cover enough to get me through a month. This means I have to ration them.
I also don’t like the way they make me feel, as my joints get sore from taking them, and I often have bounceback migraines. That said, I cannot imagine not having access to medication.
What is CEFALY?
CEFALY is a non-invasive migraine treatment that utilizes transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) technology. This portable device consists of a sticky electrode and the e-TNS device.
You attach the electrodes to your clean forehead with the device, and it delivers electrical impulses to stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which is believed to play a key role in migraine pain.
The electrical stimulation resets the nerve. It works to treat both acute migraines and as a daily preventative that over two to three months helps reduce the number and intensity of migraines you do get.
This is a drug-free migraine treatment, and it has been approved by the FDA for acute and preventative treatment of migraines for adults 18 and over.
Does CEFALY Really Work?
Like any migraine treatment, CEFALY won’t work for everyone. My CEFALY review can only share my own experience, but for me yes, it absolutely works.
With medication, I know I have to ration it, so I often wait to treat until I know it won’t go away on its own. With CEFALY, I can and do start an acute treatment as soon as I feel the warning signs of a migraine.
That alone makes a difference.
I find that I have far fewer bounceback migraines with the CEFALY device, so I end up with fewer migraine days.
Additionally, the device does get rid of many of my migraines. I can feel it work during the session.
While the program runs, I generally experience relief within 10 minutes of it starting.
Two or three times, the headache came back a bit after the program ended. I ran it a second time, and that did the trick.
However, I have noticed that this works on migraine triggers like eating the wrong food or encountering a chemical scent. It does not work on tension migraines for me caused by stressing the muscles in my neck and upper shoulders that develops into a migraine over time.
It also works far better when I do a treatment as soon as I feel a migraine coming on rather than waiting to see how bad it gets. Thankfully, I can use it as often as needed rather than the nine migraine meds I have a month.
It impacts all parts of the migraine for me. I have less light and sound sensitivity, my nausea decreases, and my head pain goes away.
How to Use the CEFALY Device
Charge the device when you first receive it. The company states that the charge lasts for seven acute attacks or 21 days of prevention, but my device stays charged longer than this.
The most important next step is to wash your forehead and between your eyebrows with soap and water. Facial cleanser doesn’t cut it.
Once you have a clean face, carefully remove the plastic back from the electrode. Handle the electrode only by its sides to extend its life, and place it with the wings just above your eyebrows and the curved section between them.
Run your hands over the electrode to smooth it into place and ensure it lies flat. The CEFAY device easily snaps onto your electrode with the magnets on each piece.
Press the center of the device to begin treatment. Press once for the 60 minute acute therapy and twice to run a 20 minute prevention program.
The device starts at a relatively low intensity that builds over time. You can speed that process and quickly get to the intensity most comfortable to you by holding down the device after the program starts then releasing it once it’s strong enough.
If you go to far, simply pull the CEFALY device off the electrode, which stops the program. You can then start again.
Similarly, if the gradual increase in intensity reaches a max for you, press the device once and it stabilizes at that intensity.
While the program runs, sit and relax. You don’t want to move around, and ideally you can lie down or have your head tilted back.
When the program ends, remove the device and store it. Carefully remove the electrode and immediately replace it on the plastic backing.
Return this to the resealable pouch to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Why Is It So Important to Wash Your Face?
If your forehead isn’t clean, the electrode doesn’t stick fully. This shortens its lifespans, which means you need to replace it more frequently.
You’ll also discover the hard way if you didn’t wash your face well. At some point in the process, you’ll start to feel a sharp stinging sensation, and the CEFALY device and electrode will pop off your forehead.
Yes, I’ve experienced this more than once. The first time was when I used my facial cleanser, and the second time when I had washed my face a few hours before and figured it was recently enough. Nope.
This can cause injury if you allow this to happen, so always wash well and ensure your electrode is in good shape before you start.
As a side note, I mark the plastic backing of the electrode I use with a sharpie so I know which one I have and have no used when storing them in the resealable bag. I want to use it up before I move to the next one.
Once you find the electrode doesn’t stick as well, replace it. Always look to ensure the electrode remains covered in gel and does not look dried out.
They generally last about 20 uses before you need to replace it.
How Does the CEFALY Treatment Feel?
The electrical stimulation feels like a light buzzing or vibration. The company states that you may feel like your hair is standing on end or your eyebrows are twitching, but that is a false sensation.
When I have the CEFALY device in the right place – it did take me a few tries to learn exactly where to position it for the best impact – I feel more than this, however. I can feel the fascia in my forehead moving and realigning.
Most people can and do not feel their fascia, however, whether with this treatment or anything that impacts it.
The sensation for me encompasses almost my entire forehead, and I can sometimes feel it going up to the top of my head and over my scalp. It feels like something moving and twisting under my skin.
This is not an unpleasant sensation, and it does not hurt. CEFALY should never hurt.
If it does, remove it immediately. Reposition the electrodes, or thoroughly wash and dry your face before you try again.
If I have my CEFALY device in the slightly wrong position, I may feel the stimulation going down to my nose or across to my ears. I simply reposition it to the right place and make sure I use a mirror.
CEFALY offers an accompanying smartphone app called CeCe, which provides a user-friendly interface for controlling and customizing the treatment settings. The app comes with the CEFALY Connected but not CEFALY Enhanced.
The CeCe App
The app allows you to adjust the intensity of the electrical impulses according to your comfort level, track your migraine patterns, and even receive personalized treatment recommendations.
It connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone and includes several features:
- Log migraines
- Track triggers, symptoms, and treatments
- Set reminders to adhere to your treatment plan
- Generate charts and reports of your migraine evolution to share with your provider
I will be honest that I have not used the app.
Part of the reason migraine prevention doesn’t work as well for me is that I am terrible about taking medication every day. I am just as bad about tracking my migraines and doing the daily preventative sessions.
That said, the reminders I could set via the app would be a great way to get into the habit of doing the daily 20 minute prevention sessions. Those sessions only work if you do them consistently.
If you are someone who does a better job tracking and taking care of yourself, this app would be perfect.
Which CEFALY device should I purchase?
CEFALY currently offers two options: CEFALY Connected and CEFALY Enhanced.
The difference between the two products is the pairing ability with the CeCe app. CEFALY Connected offers access to the app. CEFALY Enhanced does not.
Both come with a set of three electrodes to get started, as well as the charging dock and cable, plus a storage case.
If you do plan to use the CeCe app, I suggest you order the CEFALY Connected Device and Electrodes bundle. For $524, you get an additional 15 electrodes, which cost $25 per three pack if you order them separately.
You can also subscribe to purchase replacement electrodes, which saves you five percent and get free shipping when you ship every 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on how often you use your CEFALY device.
Cefaly Review Conclusion
The CEFALY device has been a huge help for me. It absolutely works on the majority of the migraines I have tried it on for the past couple months.
It is not inexpensive, but when I look at the time I lose to migraines and the pain and suffering they cause, I can easily justify the cost. I no longer run out of migraine meds each month, and the cost to replace my electrodes is far less than my monthly medication cost.
This is a game-changer for me.
I really love that it is a drug-free medication that has a ton of clinical studies behind it to back its effectiveness. The fact that it’s non-invasive and portable makes this a treatment I will continue to use an recommend as part of this CEFALY review.