Christopher Villar, MD - Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart

Knowing your options when it comes to spine surgery and the physician treating you

Dr.Christopher Villar, neurosurgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola, FL, answers the most commonly asked spinal surgery questions.

Dr. Christopher Villar is a board certified neurosurgeon at Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart in Pensacola and specializes in neurological disorders that affect your brain, spin, and nerves.


We asked Christopher Villar, MD a neurosurgeon at The Advanced Brain and Spine Institute at Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida to help us answer some common questions patients have about spine surgery.

What does a spine surgeon do?

Provides Experienced and Comprehensive Care

A spine surgeon treats and takes care of your spinal needs. Our neurosurgeons help to relieve pain, increase movement, and improve your quality of life. Experienced surgeons at Ascension Sacred Heart treat many neck and back injuries.

Connects you to proactive or minimally invasive treatment options

When spine surgery is recommended as part of your care plan, experienced neurosurgeons at The Advanced Brain and Spine Institute at Ascension Sacred Heart use the latest spine surgery techniques. The Advanced Brain and Spine Institute is a leader in minimally invasive and complex spinal surgery. 

Whenever possible, minimally invasive procedures are recommended. These procedures use smaller incisions and cause less disruption to the spine. They may also lead to less pain and a shorter recovery.

And our spine surgeons are experienced in advanced neurosurgery and spine surgery techniques.

What is the most common spinal surgery?

The most common spine procedure that our neurosurgeons perform is called a thoracic discectomy or the removal of a herniated disc. A herniated disk may happen overtime due to excessive strain, injury, or natural causes. 

During your surgery, your surgeon may use neurophysiological monitoring. This special type of monitoring watches your brain, spine, and nerve function in real time during an operation. By monitoring your nervous system, we are able to make precise adjustments during your surgery to help improve outcomes.

Is spinal surgery a high-risk surgery?

Although spine surgery is a serious procedure, our neurosurgeons help you create a comprehensive plan that addresses all your health concerns.Before your procedure, you will have a pre-surgery evaluation. We take the time to explain the procedure and answer your questions. During surgery, you have a dedicated surgical care team, including neuroanesthesia specialists. These specialists ensure the patient's safety, care, and optimal operating conditions for your neurosurgeon. 

And if you need advanced care after surgery, you are connected to our Neuroscience intensive care unit (Neuro-ICU) – the only Neuro-ICU in the region. Using some of the latest technology and surgical techniques, we deliver advanced care for even the most complex spinal care needs.

How long is recovery from spinal surgery?

After surgery, your physical therapist will evaluate your needs, create a care plan for rehabilitation and make sure you are prepared to go home. Your therapist will also help you with walking devices such as a cane or walker, if needed. Working with you and your care team, your physical therapist can help determine the level of physical therapy you may need to recover.

Can spine surgery fix all back pain?

Your care plan to address your back and neck pain may include therapy or surgical options. 

Your care team at The Advanced Brain and Spine Institute at Ascension Sacred Heart focuses on rehabilitation therapies to safely increase your muscular strength and flexibility. Certain exercises, anti-inflammatory medicines, braces or injections may help relieve pain. 

When surgery is needed, your doctor will discuss your surgical treatment options. There are many different types of surgery to treat back pain. Your doctor will recommend a surgical care plan that’s right for you.

Get a second opinion from a neurosurgeon at Ascension Sacred Heart

Get the confidence and peace of mind that your doctor and care plan are right for you. It's easy to get a second opinion at The Advanced Brain and Spine Institute at Ascension Sacred Heart. We can review your medical records and healthcare history to answer your questions and discuss options. Talk with one of our doctors about a personalized care plan.

When you are experiencing pain from an injury or symptoms of a spine condition, there’s a lot to think about. We can discuss both therapeutic or surgical treatment plans. Our team of highly experienced neurosurgeons can provide you with a second opinion based on experience and as part of an integrated national network of care.

Before your appointment, check with your insurance company to find out if a second opinion is covered. We can request your medical records from your doctor on your behalf, so that they can be shared with your care team before your arrival.

Find a doctor that listens

Every appointment with your neurologist starts with a conversation. Your doctor will take the time to answer all your questions — big and small. As your care needs change, we’re ready with the care that’s right for you, helping relieve pain, improve movement and manage symptoms, so that you can feel more like you again.