‘Super Doctor’ brings his surgical specialty to UCLA

December 23, 2014

Dr. Jeffrey Suh specializes in complex sinus disease, endoscopic sinus surgery

(Park Sang-hyuk / The Korea Times Los Angeles)

Dr. Jeffrey Suh’s specialty is treating complex sinus diseases through endoscopic sinus surgery — a procedure that is minimally invasive and has a very high success rate.(Park Sang-hyuk / The Korea Times Los Angeles)

By Brian Han

When Dr. Jeffrey Suh, M.D., played video games growing up, neither he nor his parents could have imagined that it would help him perform cutting edge surgical procedures.

“My parents hated it when I played them because I wasn’t studying,” said Dr. Suh. “But certain games helped develop my hand eye coordination in a way that translates to the skills needed in the operating room.”

His medical achievements have earned him the title of “Super Doctors’ Rising Star” two years in a row by MSP Communications and his peers through a highly-selective review process that selects only the best physicians from around the U.S.

The 38-year-old doctor specializes in complex sinus disease and performs endoscopic sinus surgery for patients who are experiencing sometimes debilitating symptoms.

Dr. Jeffrey Suh, MD is responsible for bringing endoscopic sinus surgery to the West Coast -- a cutting edge procedure that is minimally invasive and has a very high success rate. (Korea Times)

Aside from the time spent in the operating room, Dr. Suh travels to Korea’s most prestigious universities quite often to give lectures and perform research. (Korea Times)

“The operation occurs inside the patient’s sinuses with little telescopes,” Dr. Suh explains. “The way it works is that I’m looking at a television screen with a picture of the sinuses instead of looking directly where my hands are operating, which in some ways is similar to playing a video game. It’s incredible. None of these [types of complex] procedures were being done four years ago before I got here.”

He currently practices out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, which is fitting because it’s where he spent nine years completing his medical degree, internship and residency.

From 2009 to 2010, he completed his fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he was worked under Dr. David W. Kennedy.

“Before Dr. Kennedy, no one did endoscopic sinus surgery,” says Dr. Suh. “It was all done by using magnifying glasses and a light while looking into a tiny nostril. You could say he’s the grandfather of this particular procedure. My life wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t gone to the East Coast.”

The key advantage to Dr. Suh’s specific line of work is its convenience. Not only is the procedure minimally invasive, patients can begin to feel the benefits rather quickly.

“Whereas some older procedures would force us to go through the scalp and skull to remove certain types of tumors, now we can go through the nose, which means no cuts on the patients face and a faster recovery,” Dr. Suh said. “A patient’s quality of life can be reversed [for the better] within a week or two.”

As a result, patients with serious and complex sinus issues are lining up for this minimally invasive procedure.

In addition to having a clinic, Dr. Suh is performing about 10 of these procedures a week. As a result, he has to choose each case carefully.

“I can’t work any harder, ” he said. “I can’t see any more patients so I focus on doing surgery on the worst of the worst. Truthfully, any general ENT [Ear, Nose and Throat] doctor can help 90 to 95 percent of patients.”

His patient base is rather diverse in age as well as ethnicity, but as a Korean American doctor, he tends to see a good number of Korean patients.

Among this specific demographic, there tend to be trends related to sinus health.

Dr. Suh has graduated from video games to surfing and he has no problems with that. (Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Suh)

Dr. Suh has graduated from video games to surfing and he has no problems with that. (Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Suh)

“The main issue is a lack of access to care,” Dr. Suh said. “A lot of the older Korean patients I see have had sinus disease for a very long time and just live with the symptoms — symptoms that can really hurt a person’s quality of life including losing the ability to taste, smell or breathe properly. In Koreatown, there’s only two ENT doctors to my knowledge.”

In reality, there are many ENT doctors all over the U.S., just not many who speak Korean.

For many older Koreans, these language barriers can be intimidating, and more importantly can keep them from finding the care they need.

Although Dr. Suh isn’t fluent in Korean, he has made a conscious effort to bridge the gap by hiring a bilingual staff.

Aside from the time spent in the operating room, Dr. Suh travels to Korea’s most prestigious universities quite often to give lectures and perform research.

“I’ve taught at Seoul National University and know a lot of the doctors there,” he said. “I have a lot of friends that I do research with at Konkuk University as well as Yonsei. I go there about once a year to give lectures.”

As for video games, they’ve slowly crept their way out of his life, but he’s found a new hobby for when he decides to take some well-deserved time off.

“I don’t play much anymore because my wife doesn’t let me,” he said jokingly. “Instead, I surf in my free time. I went to Fiji last year for a surf trip and I absolutely loved it.”

(Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Suh)

Dr. Suh catching a perfect wave in Costa Rica (Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Suh)

66 Comments

  1. Mirna

    January 8, 2015 at 8:52 PM

    I would like to make an appointment with Dr. Suh. Please send me an email with the information. What type of insurance he accepts? Or hoe much will be for consult and surgery? I’m a 4O years old women, and I developed allergies like 5 yrs ago. My nose is always congested, can’t breath normal, and the worst part an very embarrassing is that the air that comes out of my nose smells horrible. That is so embarrassing. Please help me! You can contact me at 626-201-8829.

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  63. lily

    April 10, 2016 at 11:58 PM

    Thanks for sharing..

  64. sunidhi

    July 19, 2016 at 5:48 AM

    Nice blog.. Thanks for this.. I want to book appointment for my sister. I was searching for the same………….

  65. YOKO Kuramoto

    July 24, 2017 at 7:59 AM

    My bother who lives in San Francisco was rob and he was hit on the the head. Since then he lost the taste and smell. I’m worry about him. Since than he is in depression. Is there a way Dr.Suh can help him to get back the taste and smell? I like to help my brother. Yoko

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    September 20, 2017 at 10:29 PM

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