Minimally Invasive Spine Centers Of Excellence
Meet The San Diego Team
Lead by board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Choll Kim, the San Diego Office offers a personalized experience for the evaluation and treatment of your spine. There are no phone trees and a live person answers when you call.
Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)
Laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS) is a revolutionary minimally invasive procedure for the effective treatment of disc herniations, radiculopathy, and sciatica. This is a same-day procedure with little to no recovery time.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MIS)
• What is MIS?
• What types of problems are treated?
• What surgery options are there?
• What does it mean to be a Center of Excellence (MIS-COE)?
Latest News From Dr. Kim's Office
Check back here for more info on behind-the-scenes, video testimonials, recovery, and more
Back Pain, Back Surgery, And The LESS Procedure With Dr. Choll Kim
- Natalie Jill
Listen to the podcast below!
Or at least that's what I used to tell myself... Until the day I physically COULDN’T run anymore... It’s funny how life has a strange way of teaching us lessons. Especially when it comes to us taking things for granted.
Although I struggled with being overweight my whole life I still remained active throughout...I was always an athlete and challenging my body was something I did on the regular.
Once I graduated high school and was no longer a part of any sports team it was up to solely me to motivate myself to workout. So I (somewhat) did. Along the way, though, I injured my lower back... I thought i must have just gone too heavy in the gym and that it would get better in the next few days... it didn’t. I thought maybe the next few weeks, months, year? It didn’t. I tried physical therapy , acupuncture, chiropractors , massages, and even multiple epidural shots... nothing worked. The injury got so bad to the point where I couldn’t even walk for longer than 15 minutes without breaking down due to the unbearable pain from my back shooting down both of my legs.
In those moments I remember thinking damn... I would give anything to be able to just run again... even stand for long periods of time... I felt helpless.
Luckily that’s when I did my research and found Dr. Choll Kim out of spine institute San Diego... this man and his work literally changed my life. Turns out I had a ruptured disc so large in my L4-5 he named it “the whopper” . He performed a microdiscectomy on me and the pain relief was instant. I was literally able to walk myself to the car the same day and go on multiple short walks every day after... I was so grateful! I told myself from that point on I would never take my health for granted ever again. I will respect, strengthen and nurture my body properly on a daily basis and I will never give up on making myself better. I work very hard to keep this promise.
As a result I have lost 50lbs and gained a whole lot more self-respect. I run several times a week and am always working to strengthen my body. All in all this is my long way of saying to be appreciative...Appreciative of the fact that we woke up today. It’s so easy to get distracted and frustrated and annoyed on a daily basis...however, with a shift of perspective our lives could be so much more abundant, so much happier. If you’re going through a struggle know that there is always something to learn from it and it will inevitably make you a better person at the other end of it.
My son and his mother-in-law had used Dr. Kim for their back surgeries and highly recommended him. Dr. Kim’s reputation and the fact that he uses non invasive techniques made me decide to use him as my surgeon. I was hoping not to have to undergo general anesthesia but it turned out to be necessary in my case.
I was very concerned about general anesthesia because of my age and the fact that I had problems with anesthesia in my one previous surgical experience. I finally decided I had no choice but to use general anesthesia. I am glad I decided this because the anesthesiologist took every precaution, and I recovered quickly from the effects of the anesthesia.
My fear of becoming a vegetable was unfounded, and as far as I can tell, I am the same old me.
My surgery was a success. I am glad every day that I chose Dr. Kim as my surgeon. I exercise every day and I do my PT exercises every day. My physical therapist told me I don’t need PT any more, but I continue therapy once a month because of my age and to insure that I don’t backslide and develop problems.
I am able to travel, drive, sit comfortably, walk, and play tournament bridge. I have plenty of energy and I sleep well at night. I am able to continue my volunteer work as an advocate for kids. I currently have three cases with three teenagers and a baby. I also write for the CASA (court appointed special advocate) newsletter.
In short, I have my life back.
I will always be able to tell I had surgery. But I can live with twinges and am overjoyed to be able to do what I want with only minor discomfort. Would I do it again? Absolutely! And I would not have waited a year.
Would I recommend Dr. Kim and his staff? Absolutely! HE IS BEST!
On the day of my procedure, I was a bit nervous about the amount of pain I would have during my recovery. Much to my surprise, I never felt pain at any time during my recovery. I expected to at least have pain around the incision... but nothing.
I hadn't realized how much pain I had endured over the years until it was finally gone. A day after surgery, Dr. Kim texted me to see how I was doing. I have never had a doctor personally follow up with me the day after surgery and give me a direct line to contact them should I need anything.
I have and will continue to recommend Dr. Kim to anyone who suffers from back or neck pain!”
I had several Epidurals - which worked for a short while and then things just got worse and worse. I was in so much pain day and night and then my friend recommend I call and get a phone diagnosis with Dr. Choll Kim.
Besides being “over the top qualified” he was so reassuring over the phone and he felt he could really help me. Following our phone call - I went to see him and was immediately ready to do the surgery - I did not feel like I was a number - he was so gracious and reassuring - even though he said I wouldn’t like him for the first 3 months.
It has been 6 months now and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and what he did for me - no pain - I have my life and smile back. He is the best!!!!”
When I needed back surgery Dr. Kim was recommended by one of the techs I work with, she said that all his patients loved him and his staff. Dr. Kim and his staff held my hand through every step of the process. I was treated with respect, I had the procedure explained to me, I was made to feel calm and relaxed. Dr. Choll Kim's personality is infectious and spreads warmth and confidence throughout the office. I never had to wait long for an appointment and his staff is without reproach. Especially Josh, always friendly and prompt to answer emails or complete disability or work forms.
After a few months of recovery and rehabilitation My back is pain free. I'm not going to lie, recovery's rough, but in two weeks I'll be able to ride my horse again. I am able to pick up my grand babies. Thank you Spine Institute of San Diego!
Having reached my maximum tolerance, I went to Dr Choll Kim for resolution of these on-going symptoms which were stemming from, as he detected, the L4-5 Spondylolisthesis and severe Stenosis.
Seven days post-op, I have obtained substantial relief from those horrendous symptoms. This is much more benefit than I ever would have anticipated. Dr Choll Kim and his staff were so welcoming, helpful, courteous, professional and most personable. (Too bad he doesn’t do dental work too?)
I thank you Dr Choll Kim and your marvelous staff for my dramatic positive outcome and my new outlook each morning when I awake from a decent night sleep.
I had sciatica pain for years, but it had become debilitating in 2012.
Dr. Kim performed a minimally invasive discectomy on my L5-S1 disc, which eliminated the pain.
It's been over 4 years since the surgery and I still have no pain.
I highly recommend Dr. Kim.
If I had 100 stars to rate this surgeon and the whole staff, I would use them all!!
Thank you Dr Kim for giving me my life back!
Just celebrated my 70th birthday and 1 year post surgery totally pain free. Diagnosed with grade 1 spondylolisthesis at L4-L5 with severe stenosis. Had 6 ESI's over a period of 2 years before finally deciding on surgery.
Dr Kim performed a 6 hour 2 level MIS TLIF at L4-S1.
I can't say enough good things about Dr Kim, his staff, my experience at Alvarado Hospital, and my follow up care. My recovery was swift. I feel both gratitude and fortunate that I'm able once again to walk/hike, bike, golf, bowl, ski and most of all, live pain free.
I would also recommend checking out Dr Kim's YouTube surgical videos. They reflect a highly skilled state of the art surgeon with a friendly self confident attitude.
Thank you Dr Kim!
Although I was scared, I trusted Dr. Kim to treat me a carefully as he would his own mother. I'm glad I went forward with the reconstruction of my lower spine providing me with lasting relief from stenosis and compression of my lower spine.
Thank you! Dr. Kim.
About Choll Kim, MD PhD
- Received PhD degree in Molecular Biology from UCLA in 1992
- Graduated with Honors, cum laude, from Harvard Medical School in 1996
- Finished Fellowship in Spine Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2002
- Founded Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (SMISS) in 2006