Interview: Dr. Marcella Madera

Meet local neurosurgeon Marcella Madera. Marcella is best known for pioneering new concepts in regenerative medicine, right here in Austin, learn more about her below.

What got you involved in neurosurgery? Was it part of your original plan in med school?

I knew I was a surgeon from the first surgical rotation I did in medical school. I was planning on plastic surgery when I did a rotation in neurosurgery and was blown away by the intensity and fun of the field. The surgical anatomy was beautiful, and the work of patient care was fascinating. Having supportive mentors in medical school was instrumental in allowing me to see my potential and go for the most competitive residency for which medical students can apply.

Tell us a little bit more about your studies on non-surgical options on the path to healing

I have traveled to Europe and domestically to learn cutting-edge endoscopic techniques and regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine includes using your own stem cells for treatment of degenerative spine disease, and when paired with optimized health, can spare people from having to have spine surgery. Regenerative treatment can also be used in combination with surgery to minimize the size of the surgery being performed. I have also studied health and wellness including advanced energy medicine modalities, natural pain management with herbs and supplements, and holistic medicine with nationally recognized leaders in these fields. My own wellness practices lead me to study ways in which I could bring more holistic healing to my patients.

Incredible. So, where can we find you in Austin?

My integrative practice, Austin Integrative Spine, is located in Lakeway, and my conventional practice, Austin Brain and Spine, is in central Austin.

What brought you to Austin and where are you originally from?

I reconnected with my husband, Mark Obrecht, at our 10-year high school reunion in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was a neurosurgery resident at the time in Cincinnati, and I enjoyed every visit I made to Austin over the years we were living apart. As Mark is a software entrepreneur, Austin was a perfect fit for us once I finished my spine fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

I really love that Céline skirt you bought form The Women’s Shop! What keeps you coming back to see us at ByGeorge?

I have loved the variety and style By George fosters since my first visit before I moved to Austin. I can always find something that I can wear both to work and when off, and I have so enjoyed statement pieces I have bought over the years, like that pleated skirt. As a follower of fashion, I love that there is a place in Austin I can find designers that I can’t find anywhere else. I am a tactile shopper, and I appreciate that I can walk in anytime and enjoy the art of fashion here in Austin.

You’re expecting your second baby, congratulations! How have you utilized what is already in your closet differently with your growing belly?

Always loving boxy, architectural shapes, thankfully, I have a lot of tops that accommodate my changing size. I also have some elastic waist and drawstring black pants from By George that still fit when worn below my belly. My go-to outfits are black pants paired with fun shoes or boots and an oversized top. Zero + Maria Cornejo tops, skirts, and dresses are cut so as to flatter any shape, and I continue to wear many of those pieces (especially a draped, jersey black skirt with an elastic waist!). I also love my Céline bags and other accessories (scarves and jewelry) to brighten up maternity basics.

You’re an extremely inspiring person, what are some words of advice you’d offer somebody looking into starting their own practice someday?

Being a physician also means caring for yourself and structuring your practice in a way that supports your own health and well-being. By creating a win-win practice where patients see your value and you see theirs, you will feel their appreciation so much more. That both myself and the patients are fully contributing to their healing has been a beautiful discovery. Creating your own practice allows you to be the full expression of who you are as a physician and to receive the gift that is the honor of being your patients’ doctor.

What is the most eye-opening thing you’ve learned this year in your profession?

I have learned that regenerative treatment works for degenerative spine disease as well as shoulder, hip, and knee arthritis, and I have seen results first-hand. Before my study of this burgeoning field of medicine, I had not seen direct patient results; I was skeptical. Now, I know if I or my family member has an arthritic condition, my first recommendation is regenerative treatment.

Who is a candidate for the procedures you’re doing and how is it different from the surgical route? 

Spine disease and arthritis are a call to action to optimize health and prevent future problems. My goal is to leave my patients better than I found them in their whole health, not just the condition of their spines and joints. Anyone with a degenerative spine problem is a candidate for evaluation at Austin Integrative Spine (AIS).

At AIS, I have a private consultation with a patient to discuss his/her whole health and specific spine history and problem. Many people who are candidates for spine regenerative procedures have been told they need surgery; I also recommend smaller surgeries along with regenerative procedures for some patients. In general, regenerative procedures alone are simple, outpatient injections with minimal to no down time from work or travel.

The types of surgeries I perform are widely varied depending on the specific spine problem, and how regenerative treatment compares to surgery or how it can be added to minimize surgery is discussed in detail during the consultation. For example, I have a patient that was offered a multi-level fusion for her neck pain, and regenerative treatment gave her 90% relief of her pain with no surgery. I have also used regenerative treatment in combination with outpatient endoscopic decompression surgery to spare patients a lumbar fusion and improve both back and leg pain. In all of these examples, the patients also undertook my program to optimize their whole health by modifying stress, nutrition, and exercise.

Dr. Madera’s Top Picks

Clockwise from left: 

The Row Devi Dress “LBD with technical fabric at a fantastic price!”

Zero + Maria Cornejo Pintuck Gabban Shirt in White I love a white shirt especially one with such great details!”

Dries Van Noten Capo Shirt “Structure and shape are amazing, this would be perfect with skinny jeans or a pencil skirt.”

Raquel Allegra Cropped Pajama Pant in Ocean “Cannot beat PJ pants for daytime!”

Dries Van Noten Dixio Dress “Dries does prints like no one else, I love the contrast of the print with the structure of the dress.”

Céline Small Sangle Bag in Frost “Unique color, perfect size.”

Find Dr. Marcella Madera at austinintegrativespine.com and @drmaderaspine on Instagram