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Truth behind Celebrities and Weight Loss Surgery

Truth behind Celebrities and Weight Loss Surgery


Typically, the word “celebrity” conjures up images of beautiful faces and trim physiques. But, like many Americans, some celebrities have struggled with their weight. Scrutinized in the public eye, many of these celebrities have turned to weight loss surgery. Some, like Carnie Wilson of Wilson Phillips fame and the Today Show's Al Roker, are very open about undergoing bariatric surgery. Others, including Star Jones (formerly of The View), spend years denying that their weight loss was the result of surgery.

Quick Look at Weight Loss Surgery in the United States

The popularity of weight loss surgery has grown steadily over the years. There was a 755 percent increase in the number of weight loss surgeries performed in the United States between 1995 (20,000) and 2005 (171,000).

Most of these bariatric surgeries fall into one of two categories: gastric bypass surgery and restrictive banding surgery. Variations on gastric bypass surgery, including the roux-en-y gastric bypass procedure , are currently the most popular weight loss surgeries in the United States. Restrictive banding surgeries, specifically LAP-BAND® System surgery , are more popular overseas, but are gaining popularity in the United States.

Which Celebrity Had Which Weight Loss Surgery?

Many people are interested in knowing which celebrities have undergone which bariatric surgery procedures. Here’s DocShop’s breakdown

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Today, many types of gastric bypass surgeries, like the popular roux-en-y procedure, involve the combination of surgically bypassing a section of the intestines with the creation of a pouch (essentially, a smaller stomach). This type of bariatric surgery is associated with faster weight loss, but can be more expensive and harder to reverse than a gastric banding procedure.

Celebrities who have had traditional gastric bypass weight loss surgery include :

  • Star Jones (TV personality)
  • Carnie Wilson (singer in Wilson Phillips, TV personality)
  • Al Roker (weatherman on Today Show, author)
  • John Popper (lead singer of Blues Traveler, songwriter)
  • Michael Genadry (actor)

The Fobi Pouch method is a variation of the roux-en-y gastric bypass procedure, which uses a band to divide the stomach, creating a smaller pouch.

Celebrities who underwent the Fobi Pouch method of gastric bypass surgery include :

  • Randy Jackson (American Idol judge, musician, record producer)
  • Roseanne Barr (actress, comedienne)
  • Etta James (singer)
  • Jo Marie Payton (actress)
  • Jennifer Holliday (singer, actress)

LAP-BAND® System Surgery

Unlike gastric bypass surgery, the LAP-BAND® System does not reroute the intestines. Instead, a silicone band is used to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach. Although not as popular in the United States as gastric bypass surgery, LAP-BAND® System surgery is typically less expensive and is both adjustable and reversible.

Celebrities who have had LAP-BAND® surgery include :

  • Sharon Osbourne (TV personality, music manager/promoter, wife of Ozzy Osbourne)
  • Ann Wilson (lead singer of the rock band Heart)
  • Khaliah Ali (fashion designer, author, daughter of Muhammad Ali)
  • Joe Gannascoli (actor)
  • Brian Dennehy (actor)
  • Anne Diamond (British TV personality)
  • Mikey Robbins (Australian media personality)

Full Disclosure, Acknowledgement, or Denial

When celebrities radically transform their appearance, the public usually wants to know how they did it. Did the celebrity have surgery? Use diet pills? Work out with a trainer for hours at a time?

Almost Too Much Information

Numerous celebrities are willing to disclose that they had surgery. Some announce the surgery through a media outlet or even place the weight loss surgery at center stage. For example, Carnie Wilson had a live Internet broadcast of her gastric bypass surgery in 1999. After going from a size 28 to a size 6, Wilson showed off her new physique by posing for Playboy.

Willing to Share

Not quite as upfront as Carnie Wilson, after initially hiding the fact that he was going to have the surgery, Al Roker allowed a video segment surrounding his gastric bypass surgery to be aired on Dateline. By the time the segment aired, the Today Show weatherman had already lost about 100 pounds.

Other celebrities will acknowledge they underwent surgery if asked, but won't go out of their way to talk about it. Many times, once the weight loss surgery is made public knowledge, a celebrity will be featured in a magazine article or on the website of the surgeon who performed the procedure. Roseanne Barr, America Idol's Randy Jackson, Etta James, and Jo Marie Payton have all been featured in weight loss articles and on the websites of the bariatric surgeons who performed their surgeries.

Deny, Deny, Deny

Some celebrities and public figures will outright deny that they have undergone weight loss surgery. Star Jones, a former member of The View and current host of Star Jones, underwent gastric bypass surgery in the summer of 2003. For the next several years, when asked in interviews if she had undergone weight loss surgery, she said that she had not. Finally, in September 2007, she admitted in Glamour magazine that she had had gastric bypass surgery.

Currently, there is speculation that former Arkansas governor and current hopeful for the Republican presidential nomination Mike Huckabee has undergone some form of bariatric surgery. Huckabee's 100-plus-pound weight loss in less than two years has led many to believe that he must have turned to weight loss surgery. The presidential hopeful denies that he has had surgery and attributes his weight loss to healthy eating habits and exercise.

Is Keeping the Weight Off Easier for Celebrities?

Although weight loss surgery helps take weight off, many people have difficulty keeping that weight off. Some estimates state that about 5 percent of weight loss surgery patients gain back the weight.

How do celebrities fair in this equation? Is it easier for them to keep the weight off because they have the money for trainers, nutritionists, and private chefs? Not necessarily.

Keeping It Off

In many cases, celebrities who have undergone bariatric surgery are able to maintain their weight loss. In the three years since her gastric bypass surgery, Star Jones has lost and kept off 160 pounds. Music legend Etta James loss 200 pounds after her surgery a few years ago and seems to have kept it off.

Struggling with Weight Again

Sharon Osbourne lost over 100 pounds after her LAP-BAND® surgery in 1999; however, in 2006 she announced on the Howard Stern Show that she gained 15 pounds back in the previous year and was having the band removed.

After losing at least 100 pounds, it appears that a back surgery in 2005 has sparked a gradual weight gain for Al Roker.

Still Fighting

Although she is still an avid weight-loss advocate, Carnie Wilson regained some of the 150 pounds that she had lost after giving birth to her daughter in 2005. In 2006, she became a contestant on Celebrity Fit Club and lost 22 pounds during the show.

Carnie Wilson and many other celebrities know that they will constantly need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise program in order to keep off the weight they lost through surgery.

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