We sat down with Dr. Azizzadeh to learn more about his work at Cedars-Sinai, the future of vascular surgery, and how he’s settling into LA.
What does a vascular surgeon do?
Dr. Ali Azizzadeh: We deal with vascular diseases, which are diseases that affect your body’s network of blood vessels. They can affect every part of the body that receives blood flow and anybody can have them.
How did you come to Cedars-Sinai?
AA: After I finished my general surgery training at UT Health in Houston, I went to Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, which was one of the early places that adopted a minimally invasive technique for vascular surgery.
I returned to Houston and started their minimally invasive program. Cedars-Sinai recruited me to build the vascular component of the successful Smidt Heart Institute, and I’ve been here for 14 months now.
What does your average day look like?
AA: Most days, I am in the operating room, typically doing 2-3 procedures a day to fix blood vessels. One day a week, I see patients in clinic. And then in between, I work on my research as well as my educational duties with our residents.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
AA: I’ve liked science since I was a kid, and it just made sense for me to follow this path.
I’m also a people person, so medicine was a natural choice because it combined two of my interests.
What do you do when you’re not here at the hospital?
AA: Right now, I’m very busy remodeling my new home, so that takes up all my free time. But otherwise, I love working out—my favorites are weight training and yoga.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a vascular surgeon?
AA: I really love architecture and my dad’s an architect, so maybe I would pursue that.
What’s your favorite Los Angeles-area spot?
AA: One of my favorite spots is Laguna Beach—I just think there’s something therapeutic about that whole area. It’s so peaceful and I love spending time there. I spent a lot of summers there during my teenage years when I came to California to visit family.
What excites you about the future?
AA: It is unbelievable how far we’ve come in just my professional career. Almost everything we do in vascular surgery has been completely replaced by a newer technology during my professional career. I think the pace of progress that we have in science is just incredible.
How do you survive LA traffic?
AA: I live very close, so my commute is only 15 minutes. I very rarely have to get on the freeway, and that’s a blessing.
What’s the best part of your job?
AA: The best part of my job is the immediate satisfaction you get from fixing a problem and seeing the results right then. For example, if you have diabetes, you can’t just go to the doctor and get cured that day. But if you have an aneurysm, you can have a procedure and 2 hours later, you’re cured.
What advice do you live by?
AA: Never give up. A lot of times, we receive cases where somebody says, “We can’t fix this. This is not doable.” We don’t give up—we go the extra mile.
You can follow Dr. Azizzadeh on Twitter.