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Combining a Drive for Medicine & Sports: Q&A With Spine Surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed

Written by Carrie Pallardy | May 08, 2013

Hooman Melamed, MD, is an orthopedic spine surgeon. He practices in Marina del Rey and Beverly Hills, Calif., and serves as an adjunct assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Touro School of Medicine in Las Vegas. Dr. Melamed received the Depuy Spinal Fellowship award after completing his complex spine surgery fellowship at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He discusses why he choose the field of spine, the recent surgery on surfer Joey Hawkins and what he sees for the future of the spine.


Q: Why did you decide to become an orthopedic spine surgeon?

Dr. Hooman Melamed: I have always wanted to be a doctor as far back as I can remember. My father was a doctor and I was always intrigued by what he was doing. One of my favorite toys as a kid was a play doctor’s bag with all the tools, including a stethoscope and a lab coat. I would pretend to be a doctor while my brother pretended to be the patient. As I got older I would shadow my dad while he made rounds at the hospital and I was hooked.

Q: What developments in the field of spine are you currently interested in?

HM: I am most interested in minimally invasive scoliosis correction techniques. I have done research by speaking and visiting with doctors around the world in order to learn these new techniques and incorporating them into my practice.

Q: You recently performed surgery on champion surfer Joey Hawkins. How did you connect with Joey?

HM: Yes, I recently performed an anterior lumbar interbody fusion on World Champion longboarder Joey Hawkins because he was suffering from degenerative disc disease. My nonprofit, Back To You, offers free care for those who do not have the means for seeking treatment. Joey applied to be a candidate and was accepted.

Q: Have you always been interested in working with athletes?

HM: Yes, in fact, I myself play soccer at a semi-professional level. I really enjoy being active. I love to be able to help athletes get back to competing and I recently performed minimally invasive surgery on an Ironman competitor who was back to training within months and did an Iron Man about 9 months after surgery.

Q: In your opinion, how will the fields of spine and orthopedics evolve over the next few years?

HM: I believe stem-cell and other growth factors will really transform spine surgery because of their ability to repair damaged discs. More surgeries that now are considered major operations will become more minimally invasive; recovery times will be faster; infection rates less and generally there will be less pain for the patient.