Oscar Blandi's Story

“Immediately, the pain and tingling were gone. Same day.”

Oscar Blondi InstagramWhen celebrity hairstylist Oscar Blandi could no longer ignore his back pain, he turned to the experts of Och Spine at NewYork-Presbyterian for life-changing relief.

“My back looked like a question mark,” Oscar says. “It’s because of the way I cut hair. I cut hair in a gyroscopic way, so I was leaning on the right side for years. Basically, I’ve bent my spine.”

Oscar started his career at age 14, shampooing and blow-drying at his father’s shop in Naples, Italy. Today, at age 57, he has his own salon in Manhattan. He’s spent the last 30-plus years growing a reputation as a top hairstylist in New York, honing his skills and amassing a roster of A-list clients along the way.

But a stylist’s success can be hard on the body—long hours spent working on his feet weighed on Oscar, particularly on his spine. For 10 years, Oscar lived with on-and-off pain, mostly on one side, that would start in his back and spread through his leg. His foot wavered between tingling and numbness.

Oscar’s at-home regimen of Advil and stretching was no longer enough. He went to see Dr. Roger Härtl, a neurosurgeon with NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Co-Director of Och Spine, and Director of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Comprehensive Spine Care, who discovered severe nerve compression and muscle atrophy in Oscar’s right leg. Dr. Härtl and Oscar’s wife, Angie, urged him to consider surgery. After a decade of putting it off, Oscar agreed. He decided to undergo a minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

“Immediately, the pain and tingling were gone,” he says. “Same day.”

Dr. Härtl used 3D navigation and augmented reality technology to operate on Oscar’s spine. This “look-through” approach allowed him to correct the spinal curve while keeping Oscar’s recovery time as short as possible.

“What that means is we can operate through very small incisions, and we can see everything that’s relevant to the surgery without having to open the skin,” Dr. Härtl explains.

“The goal is to be more effective than traditional surgery – targeted surgery equals less side effects and pain, minimal blood loss, and lower infection rates.”

The procedure was a game changer for Oscar, who isn’t one to sit still. He was back to the gym, on his motorcycle, and jet skiing at his lake house within a matter of weeks.

“The microsurgical innovations we use at NewYork-Presbyterian are ground-breaking techniques that have proven especially helpful for patients in reducing hospital stays and recovery time,” says Dr. Härtl.

Oscar explains that, like with cutting hair, a surgeon with years of experience in their ‘craft’ is unmatched: “Dr. Härtl is the best of the best,” he says. “Between Dr. Härtl with his amazing hands--and my wife with her delicious, healthy cooking--I’m so fortunate.”

Oscar even returned the favor—his latest Instagram post is a photo of himself and Dr. Härtl smiling in an Upper East Side salon. The caption reads: “I snip your hair, you cut my back.”

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