Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Gynecologic Surgeon Dr. Mireille Truong
Sep 27, 2021 Katie Rosenblum
Meet Dr. Mireille Truong, minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon! Although she's delivered over 1,000 babies, her role now is focused on other aspects of gynecologic care. She specializes in performing surgery on women with fibroids, endometriosis and abnormal uterine bleeding, among other benign conditions.
Dr. Truong joined Cedars-Sinai shortly before the pandemic began and has been working hard to help her patients, while also becoming a mother. We sat down with her to learn more about this important and growing field and to see how she keeps herself balanced.
"What excites me is that I get to do a little bit of everything that I love: teach, perform surgery with the latest technology such as robotics, innovate, do research and take care of women."
What attracted you to surgery after completing your OB-GYN training?
Dr. Mireille Truong: I really love the operating room and I love doing surgery and doing things with my hands. I come from a background of art and I know people don't necessarily see surgery as an art, but I feel like it's a way to be creative and innovative.
Every case is different, and it keeps you on your toes. Even though we do roughly the same thing every time, there's always something a little unique about each patient—and I really love that. I really enjoy figuring out different surgical techniques to improve each procedure and make it as safe and efficient as possible for the patient.
What excites you about the work you're doing?
MT: What excites me is that I get to do a little bit of everything that I love: teach, perform surgery with the latest technology such as robotics, innovate, do research and take care of women. I get to teach the next generation of surgeons and leaders in the field. The field itself is really exciting to me, as it is always evolving, and I get to be part of that.
I'm also really involved in developing surgical simulation models to practice and teach surgery, which I'm really passionate about. It makes me wake up every day and want to go to work.
What's the difference between minimally invasive and traditional surgery?
MT: Minimally invasive surgery includes laparoscopic and robotic surgery. We call it minimally invasive because we do surgeries with small keyhole incisions. One of my mentors called it "Band-Aid surgery" because the incisions are so small you can cover them with a Band-Aid. That's different from a traditional cut, like a C-section cut. Minimally invasive surgery allows patients to recover faster, have less pain and have fewer complications with surgery.
What's your favorite part of your job?
MT: Two things: the people I work with and teaching future doctors and surgeons. My partners, Dr. Kelly Wright and Dr. Matthew Siedhoff, are inspiring people to work with. They're very skilled and talented and just make you want to be a better human being. We also just like each other and have similar interests. Instead of doing regular sit-down or virtual meetings, we do hiking meetings, which we all really enjoy and find to be very productive.
There's also a culture of mutual respect that starts with our chair, Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick. There's a real effort to create a diverse and safe space at Cedars-Sinai, and it's not everywhere you find that.
What are the team's favorite hiking spots?
MT: We go to Topanga, or the Santa Monica/Palisades area. We try to do a different hike every time.
You also teach and practice yoga. Does that help you manage the stress of your role?
MT: Yes, for sure. It definitely keeps me balanced and reminds me to be kind to myself and that I am a human being above all. But I also try to incorporate a lot of the yoga philosophies into my medical practice and help patients.
We see a lot of patients with pain or other conditions that impact their lives not just physically but on so many other levels, and I think that medicine isn't always the whole answer. I want to be able to treat patients not just on a scientific level, but be able to integrate other ways to improve their wellness overall.
You became a mom during the pandemic, congratulations! How have you juggled that with work?
MT: I'm not going to lie, it's super challenging. My husband and I moved here from Virginia right before the pandemic, so all our support group is there. And we didn't really get a chance to build a network here before things shut down.
It was definitely isolating, which I'm sure others have felt. Balancing it all, with long operating hours, breastfeeding/pumping and the stress of not bringing anything home from the hospital and trying to keep your family safe, it's all very difficult. But thankfully, COVID-19 testing and the vaccine became more readily available, and we were able to safely get our moms here from the East Coast.
The silver lining was that I was able to be at home more, so I got to spend more time with my new baby. I was also able to breastfeed for a whole year, which was a blessing and something I would have never been able to do without a pandemic.