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Meet Dr. Jason Cuellar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Jason Cuellar.

Dr. Cuellar, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a spinal surgery patient myself, I understand and empathize with what my patients are going through. This adds to my dedication to providing excellent, revolutionary care to those suffering from spinal pathologies including neck and back pain.

After having surgery for a herniated disc at a young age just before starting graduate school, I became very interested in the exact molecular mechanisms by which a spinal disc herniation causes nerve pain. I then devoted my PhD work to study these details.

I then spent the next 12 years in medical school (Stanford),orthopaedic surgery residency (NYU) and spinal surgery fellowship (Cedars-Sinai) so that I could be the best spinal surgeon possible.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think that most of the public really understands the sacrifices that physicians often have to make to complete training. For me, it was 20 years from high school graduation to my first job as a surgeon – five years of undergraduate work, four years for a PhD, five years of medical school (with an extra research year), six years of surgical residency and an additional year of fellowship. Many of these years were spent working over 80 hours per week. Upon completion of training, I was 40 years old and with $300k of student loan debt to pay off! Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing.

We’d love to hear more about your practice.
My partner (Todd H. Lanman, spinal neurosurgeon) and I specialize in treating spinal disorders without fusion using artificial disc replacement. It’s an amazing motion-preservation technology that we are currently leading the field in.

We are known for performing multilevel artificial disc replacement when other surgeons would be doing fusion instead. I think this really gives us an advantage in having the best results.

The other really unique aspect of our practice is that we spend so much time with each patient – a full hour with every new patient. We don’t have a physician assistant so the patient always sees the surgeon.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
During my fellowship training, I worked closely with several mentors, one of whom asked me to join him as his partner – Dr. Todd Lanman. It has been a real honor and blessing to work with him.

The most important person in this story is my amazing wife, Vanessa Gabrovsky Cuellar, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hand and wrist  surgery ( https://handsurgeryhealth.com/ ). She shares our office and is a wonderful person to have around.

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