CDoctor Stanton Schiffer M.D. Contact Dr. Schiffer
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If you believe in excellent medical care with personal attention provided by an experienced and world renowned surgeon and his caring staff, you have found the right clinic! Our goal is to give personalized, top quality medical care to each and every patient. Unlike other clinics, we do not overbook our schedule for office visits or surgeries. PATIENTS ARE NOT JUST A NUMBER TO US. WE STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT EACH AND EVERY PATIENT DESERVES PROPER TIME AND CARE... [more]

How We’re Different
tel:510.792.2911 fax:510.794.7924
Toll Free:877.463.5942

LED Testimonials

The patients in the Testimonials list below have had the same procedure displayed in the
video above.


July 1, 2001

To Whom It May Concern:

Just 10 days ago, Dr. Schiffer told me I didn’t need to wear my post-surgical back support any more. Already, most of the stiffness is gone. I am pain free and normal sensation has returned to my legs and feet. I just can’t believe how good I feel. I keep expecting the pain to return, but it doesn’t. Instead, I feel myself getting stronger and more agile everyday. Exercise is once again enjoyable and I am rediscovering many small pleasures I had forgotten. My whole outlook on life has improved. Once again, I am learning how to dream about the future and make plans with some confidence. I am writing this letter in the hope that sharing my experience will help others who are still looking for a solution.

I first injured my back in 1983. The injury was diagnosed as an “acute sprain”. I tried various prescribed exercise routines, lots of ibuprofin and even alternative therapies like yoga and chiropractic, but still suffered periodic disability and chronic back pain for the next 10 years. In 1993, I was told I had a herniated L-5/S-1 disk. Despite my specific requests to more than one physician, a surgical referral was not offered. Instead I was given statistics showing that physical therapy was as effective as surgery and shown articles describing class action suits by Boston area back surgery patients. When an intensive program of physical therapy, along with Flexiril, resulted in only marginal improvement, I was led to believe that I had no potential for a cure. Eventually, I lost both my health insurance and my career in archaeology. Social Security Disability turned me down because I was able to earn some money doing flexible part-time jobs.

After 5 years, I experienced significant improvement and was able to take a full time job as a technical writer. At that time, a chiropractic x-ray showed that there was almost no L-5/S-1 disk space left and I thought my condition had stabilized. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2000, my symptoms suddenly worsened for no apparent reason. The nurse practitioner in my GP’s office suggested that I get an MRI and consult a surgeon. About that time, NPR did an interview with a neurosurgeon who explained his view that every patient has an individual level of tolerance and that, unless the function of internal organs was impaired, only pain or disability that the patient could not learn to tolerate called for back surgery. Shortly thereafter, I met a very active woman who’d herniated her L-5/S-1 disk and had a microdiscectomy the year before. She told me that she was pain-free except for some stiffness, but said she'd had to “force them to operate.” Emotionally, there was no way

I saw Dr. Schiffer’s web-site a full eight months before I contacted him. I was sure that because I live near Boston, with its famous universities and hospitals, I would have access to the best medical care. Now, with all the clarity of “20/20 hindsight”, I see that it was a huge mistake not to call Dr. Schiffer immediately. Instead, I embroiled myself is an extraordinarily frustrating search to find help locally. In the end, it was very difficult to free myself from all the well intentioned misinformation I’d been exposed to and believe that minimally invasive surgery could solve my problems.

For some reason, the medical community in the Boston area seems to have a very negative attitude towards back surgery. When surgery for my case was finally discussed, more extensive procedures were encouraged “to make sure all the problems are addressed”, “so the surgeon can see”, or because “if you are going to go through surgery, you might as well go all the way”. Two different surgeons told me that a percutaneous discectomy would be of absolutely no value in my case because I had stenosis. One surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told me that only a fusion could cure my mid-back pain. It was suggested that a microdiscectomy might alleviate leg pain and return strength and feeling to my left leg. I thought that might be enough to let me have at least some kind of life, but I couldn’t find anyone who would do it unless I “exhausted all avenues of conservative care first”. (Note: If you need to gain weight, try steroids, lots of bed rest and severely reduced activity.

To say I was disappointed with the way the medical community in our area handles back problems would be an understatement. My symptoms seemed to be downplayed and I felt I was being manipulated to give up and accept a life of pain and disability. Every time I thought I had jumped through the hoops required before surgery, new barriers were added. I was really almost of the brink of despair when I finally contacted Dr. Schiffer.

As far as I can tell, all my problems have been solved by the percutaneous discectomy followed by IDET that Dr. Schiffer performed on April 4th (Even the mid-back pain: Apparently, I don’t have enough stenosis to cause a problem.) Dr. Schiffer also removed a piece of loose cartilage about 1 cm square which hadn’t shown on my MRI. It’s pretty scary to think about something like that near your spinal cord.

Even though my insurance didn’t pay all the costs of my surgery, I’m glad I went to California to have it done. If I hadn’t, I probably would have ended up having either a microdiscectomy or a fusion. I suspect I wouldn’t have been given a choice which and that by the time the option was presented, I would have been so desperate that I would have tried anything. I also suspect I would have been left with some pain and disability. I know the surgery itself would have been riskier than necessary and caused unneeded damage.

When I was in pain, I would have done anything for just some level of relief. Now that I feel good, I am really glad that: 1.) No bone was cut or removed, 2.) No muscles were detached from their anchors, 3.) My spinal cord was never exposed to air, and 4.) I have hardly any scar. (It turns out Dr. Schiffer is a fairly brilliant plastic surgeon too. My scar is has shrunk to about 3/8” in length. It is completely flat and no wider than a cat scratch. Usually, when I see surgical scars, I feel a bit shivery and ill at ease, but this doesn’t effect me that way at all. In fact, my physical therapist had to ask me to show her where it was.)

Any other kind of surgery would have been an ordeal. I expected this would be too. I was so scared the night before I flew out to California that I didn’t even know what I was packing. As it turned out, I’ve had worse times in a dentist’s office. Though lightly sedated, I was alert, aware and conversational throughout the procedure. It was actually pretty interesting. As soon as they let me stand up an hour later, I knew something good had happened. I felt very stable on my feet and the deep pain I’d had for so many years was gone. Of course, there was some localized pain from surgery, but it was very mild compared to what I had been living with and went away with medication. Before surgery, I’d had difficulty standing for even a short time. Three days afterwards, I toured San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art with some friends. We fully explored every floor and I insisted on taking the stairs instead of the elevator just because it was a joy to do so.

Chronic pain and disability erodes every aspect of your life. Despite the worthwhile changes brought about by ADA and reasonable accommodations in the work place, to let an adult live in needless pain seems to me as wasteful as sending a nearsighted child to school without glasses. In my opinion, attitudes towards back surgery should be reconsidered … especially, in light of newer minimally invasive techniques which are safe and effective when performed by an experienced surgeon.


Skia Laurence


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