Joon Song, MD, Ph.D FACOG

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Are you a patient of Dr. Song?

Rating
5 Stars

3 Reviews | Average Rating: 5

5 Stars

I’m a 34-year-old math teacher at a New York City middle school. Last February, I woke up one morning feeling like I was being stabbed in the gut. Thinking it was just bad gas pains, I went to work that morning. Once I got there, however, I was hurting so badly that I headed back home.

The pain continued on and off for the rest of that day. Because I was feeling so unwell, my sister came over to my apartment to stay with me. The pain eased up enough that I was able to sleep through the night, but at five in the morning it returned so sharply that it woke me up. I’d never felt this kind of pain before. I got up to use the bathroom, then collapsed on the bathroom floor. My sister called an ambulance and I was taken to an emergency room in Brooklyn, where a CT-scan showed that I had a very large uterine fibroid. Even though I was still in pain, I was happy to learn what was causing it and to know that I didn’t have a life-threatening condition. The ER physician prescribed codeine and recommended myomectomy surgery within the next month or so to remove the fibroid.

The following Monday, I called Dr. Joon Song’s office at NYU Langone Medical Center and made an appointment to see him that Thursday. But on the day before my appointment the pain returned, even with the codeine. Since I was already planning to see Dr. Song, I went to the NYU Langone emergency room in Manhattan. As soon as I got there, they paged Dr. Song and he came straight down. We spoke a little bit, and he told me that because of the intense pain I was in, I should probably have the fibroid surgery sooner rather than later. I agreed, so he began looking for an open time slot. As luck would have it, an operation scheduled for that Friday afternoon had just been cancelled, and that operating room was now available. So I went straight from the ER to the main hospital and had my pre-operative blood work and other testing done that same day.

The next day, I saw Dr. Song in his office for our previously scheduled appointment. He explained to me that he would use minimally-invasive surgery to remove my fibroid, since the smaller incisions would allow me to recover faster. He also said that while he had long experience doing laparoscopic myomectomies, he preferred doing a robotic myomectomy, since the robot lets him use the same highly precise hand movements he would use during open surgery. He explained that this was especially beneficial when there was a lot of suturing involved, as there would be in my case, since I wanted to preserve my ability to have children—which meant Dr. Song would be putting in extra layers of sutures when repairing my uterus.


Dr. Song also showed me a video of various robotic procedures he’d performed, which I found very intriguing. I’ve always been interested in medicine—as a kid, I’d wanted to be doctor for as long as I remember. Watching this video, I was in awe that medicine had come so far, and that Dr. Song could control the surgical robot with that kind of precision. I think my appreciation of the technology is why I felt so at ease throughout the surgery itself. That, and Dr. Song himself, who is one of the nicest physicians I’ve ever known.

The procedure itself took place in the late afternoon, and went very smoothly. When Dr. Song took out my large fibroid, he found two additional smaller fibroids behind it. It took about three hours to remove all of the fibroids and suture the surrounding area back together. The next morning, my family came to see me a little before noon in my hospital room, and I was able to walk around a bit. I felt a little discomfort, which I took some Vicodin for, but it wasn’t intense at all. I went home that evening and was able to walk up all four floors to my apartment.

I stayed home for a week, feeling better each day. It was a huge relief not have that stabbing pain anymore. A week after the operation, I felt good enough to take a walk and meet a friend for lunch. I went back to work a few days after that, and was able to make it through a full day of teaching—although I definitely felt more tired than usual! Now it’s been about three weeks since the operation, and while I’m still not quite 100 percent, I’m living my normal life.

Besides my sense of relief, I’m also pleased that the operation left me with only five small, very discreet scars from the incisions, which are already starting to fade away. I’ll remember the experience forever, of course, but I don’t have to be concerned about any ugly marks on my body. It’s funny—when I think about what happened to me, I know it was a big thing, but once I was in the care of Dr. Song, I was never scared at all. I think it’s because I was taken care of so promptly, and because all the doctors and nurses at NYU Langone are so confident, friendly and caring. Now I tell everyone, “If you have to have surgery done, go to NYU.”
5 Stars

I gave birth to my son by Caesarian section eight years ago. About two years after that, I began experiencing severe pain in my pelvis and lower abdomen. The various doctors I went to all told me that the pain was caused by an infection, and prescribed medication to treat it. But it never went away. For six years I experienced almost constant discomfort and was also bleeding quite a bit. I didn’t know what to do. It was affecting my work, my state of mine, and my personal relationships. I have a boyfriend, and it was hard very hard for me to have sex with him because of the pain I was feeling. I couldn’t even hold my son—it simply hurt too much.


Finally, a friend told me about Dr. Joon Song, a surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Song has used robotic surgery to operate on my friend for a gynecological problem, and she said that the procedure had gone very well and that he was a wonderful doctor. So I called his office and made an appointment to see him. Dr. Song gave me a physical examination and also did a sonogram. Based on his examination, he said that my pain was most likely caused by adhesions that had formed around my uterus in the months following my C-section, eight years ago. He explained that he would surgically remove the adhesions, but that to relieve all my symptoms he also needed to do a procedure called a presacral neurectomy, in which he would remove the nerves that were causing my pain. Dr. Song explained that this procedure is now recommended for my condition. He also told me he could do all this without taking out my uterus, so that I would still be able to have another child.


Dr. Song made me feel extremely comfortable. He spent a lot of time explaining everything he was going to do, both during my appointment and later over the telephone. Because he explained everything so carefully, I wasn’t uncertain at all. I’d been in pain for so long, it was wonderful to finally meet a doctor who understood what was causing it. When he said to me that it would be best to do the surgery using the da Vinci Si surgical robot, since it would let him work around my blood vessels and other organs with great precision, I told him that was fine with me.


The operation took place on January 25, 2011. When I woke up after the procedure, I could immediately feel the difference. My pain was gone! I didn’t even feel any discomfort from the surgery itself. Dr. Song had me stay overnight in the hospital because I have a thyroid condition, and he wanted to be sure it wasn’t acting up following the surgery. If not for that, he told me, I could have gone home that very same day.


When I went home the next day, I felt fine. Within 10 days I was completely back to my normal routine, except that now I had no pain or bleeding. The other night, I was able to hold my son for the first time since the operation—without pain! I also love to exercise, but my pain had made it very difficult. Dr. Song told me that beginning six weeks after the operation, I could exercise as hard as I wanted. He also said that after six weeks it would be okay to start having sex again. I am looking forward to the difference now that I’m pain-free—especially because I want to try to get pregnant, and the pain I was experiencing was stopping this from happening.

To anybody who comes to Dr. Song with a problem like mine, I just want to say this: Don’t be afraid, because your life is going to change completely for the better.
5 Stars

I came to United States from South Korea in 1971. I worked here for 28 years as a registered nurse, mostly in the area of hemodialysis—caring for kidney patients—before retiring a dozen years ago. I came to Dr. Joon Song because I had a uterine fibroid that was growing larger and causing bleeding as a result. I’d had the fibroid for many years, and it had always remained small. But in 2009, a sonogram showed that it had gotten larger, and the next year another sonogram showed it was larger still. At that point my ob-gyn doctor recommended surgery, and referred me to Dr. Song.


I met with Dr. Song in October of 2010. Before deciding what procedure to do, Dr. Song referred me for a biopsy. It is unusual to have a fibroid grow this way when you are in menopause, as I had been for 15 years, and sometimes this growth can be a sign of cancer. Fortunately the biopsy was negative, which meant Dr. Song could perform a hysterectomy. However, he explained that he couldn’t be absolutely sure there was no cancer hiding inside the uterus until after the operation itself.


When I informed him that I wanted him to perform an open surgery procedure, Dr. Song responded that he felt I would do much better with minimally-invasive surgery. “If I do an open hysterectomy, I can finish in about 30 minutes,” he said, “but you will be disabled for a long time afterwards.” He added that he had extensive experience doing minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, including hundreds of laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies. But then he told me that recently he had begun doing robotic surgery for hysterectomies, and that he thought this procedure would be better than a laparoscopic hysterectomy in my case. He explained that, similar to laparoscopy, it would require several small abdominal incisions to insert the arms of the robot, instead of one very large incision—which is what happens with open surgery—and that these small incisions would leave me much less disabled. He also said that robotic surgery was just as effective as open or laparoscopic surgery for removing my uterus and the fibroid inside it.


I was very uncertain when he told me this, because I had visions of a robot operating on me instead of a doctor. However, Dr. Song explained that robotic surgery was just like a laparoscopic hysterectomy, except that instead of using the laparoscopic tools, he would be manipulating the robot. “I operate the machine,” he told me. “It follows all my movements very exactly, and makes my surgical skills better.” He played a video showing him performing laparoscopic surgery. Then he showed me a photograph of the robot, and explained how he sits at the console and uses his finger movements to guide the robot’s surgical instruments. He explained that as good as he was at laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery offered even more precision, and also results in less trauma to the abdominal wall and less blood loss. This meant that I would feel even less discomfort after robotic surgery than I would with laparoscopy, and would also recover faster.


As an experienced healthcare professional, I still wasn’t convinced. I know the kind of complications that can occur after surgery, and I was still nervous about the idea of a machine being involved. I told Dr. Song I would think about it. Over the next couple of weeks I called him several times, and he kept reassuring me. Finally, on my next office visit, he played videos of different robotic procedures, so that I could see how precise the movements of the robot are as the surgeon guides it. He also said that if necessary, he could always convert to a laparoscopic approach during the procedure. “I can do the whole procedure laparoscopically if that’s what you really want,” he added, “but from my experience I truly believe that the robotic procedure will benefit you more.”


By this time I was convinced. I trusted Dr. Song, and after everything he had told me I trusted the robot. “Let’s go ahead,” I told him. The procedure was scheduled for the morning of Monday, December 13. Dr. Song finished the operation around 12 noon. When I woke up, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I didn’t feel any noticeable pain or discomfort at all. That very day, I was up and walking around in the hospital and able to use the bathroom unaided. I felt so good that I wondered if for some reason Dr. Song had decided not do the hysterectomy after all. When I told him this, he laughed. “I can show you the pathology report,” he said. “I definitely took your organs out!” He added that the surgery had gone very well with very little blood loss, and that he’d found no traces of cancer.


They kept me in the hospital for two days—not because of the surgery itself, but because they wanted to monitor my blood sugar and blood pressure. While I was there, a friend of mine came to see me who has a benign ovarian mass that needs to be removed. When she saw how good I looked, she said on the spot, “I want Dr. Song to use the robot to operate on me!” In fact, she’s scheduled to have her surgery with Dr. Song next week.


On Wednesday, I was discharged and returned to my residence in Queens. I had taken painkillers while I was in the hospital, but I stopped these when I got home, because I live alone and didn’t want to experience the side effects. I figured I would take Motrin, but I was feeling so pain-free, I didn’t even need that! I was so amazed that I called up Dr. Song to thank him.


One week after the operation, I was able to walk around the neighborhood and visit my son, who lives downstairs from me. Two weeks after the operation I was driving again. On Christmas Day, I traveled to Westchester with my son to visit my daughter’s family. I have an 11-year-old granddaughter and a 9-year-old grandson. They were happy and surprised to see me so soon after my operation. “Grandma, you’re here!” they shouted. My daughter was very happy as well. “I wasn’t sure you would be able to make it,” she said. “I feel great!” I replied.

It’s now three weeks since my procedure, and I feel as if I never even had an operation. I still can’t believe it. I have no problems and no pain. Dr. Song is an excellent surgeon, which is why I’ve called him again and again to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I also told him that if he has any other patients who are considering robotic surgery but are nervous about it, as I was, that I would be more than happy to talk to them and tell them what a great experience it was for me!