4 Celebrities Who Have Had Weight Loss Surgery

Written by Kristen Carli, RD and medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Boyce, MD

Celebrities are often under intense scrutiny about their weight and appearance. Unfairly, they are held to impossible standards, but in reality, they’re just like us. Many celebrities have openly struggled with their weight and even undergone weight loss surgery. Here are some celebrities who have had weight loss surgery and have shared their honest experiences.

Rosie O’Donnell

In 2012, Rosie O’Donnell had a major heart attack that almost cost her her life. She was 50 years old at the time, and doctors told her she needed to lose weight. The comedian spent a year trying to reach her goal of under 200 lbs with exercise and changes to her diet. 

O’Donnell eventually decided to have vertical gastric sleeve surgery in January 2013. In an interview with People Magazine, she said, “In my opinion, [this surgery is] something that needs a little more attention for people who have suffered with morbid obesity their whole lives. This has really, really helped me.”

O’Donnell recognized that many people believe weight loss surgery is a shortcut to losing weight, however, she has a different view. “Everyone has to approach it in a way that feels right with them, [but] once you have the surgery, it’s not a magic pill,” she said. “It’s still hard. You have to risk your life, and you’re in severe discomfort for a couple of months, and it forces you to modify your behavior when you haven’t been able to before.”

Randy Jackson

Randy Jackson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001. The former American Idol judge and music producer told WebMD that this diagnosis prompted him to seriously consider weight loss surgery to manage his weight. “Liquid fasts. Bee stings. Urine of pregnant women. You name it. I have tried it,” said Jackson, somewhat kidding. “The problem is that those diets don’t work for people who have the disease of obesity.”

In 2003, Jackson had gastric bypass surgery. Not unlike many people who undergo weight loss surgery, the musician began to gain some of his weight back. Jackson says he got serious about eating the right foods and sticking to a regular fitness routine, which wasn’t easy for the southern-raised Louisiana boy. “I grew up in the South,” he says, “where food and good times were king.”

Over the years, Jackson has maintained his 114-lb weight loss over the years by working with fitness trainers, mental health experts, and dietitians he told People Magazine.

Jackson shared several tips on how to successfully keep the weight off, but here are some of the best ones: 

Know your limits. “I am very attuned to knowing when I have had enough,” he says. “The signal to stop eating is going to come from your body, not an empty plate.” 

Never say never. “Never say ‘I will never have another piece of chocolate,’ because it won’t happen. And as soon as you say never, there is a binge coming,”

Trick yourself into working out. Jackson keeps an eyesore of a treadmill next to his bed, which isn’t making its way into Architectural Digest anytime soon, but he has to pass it each morning when he rolls out of bed. “It’s right there staring at me, going, ‘Come here. You know you need this’ [and] that makes the ugliness worth it,” he says. Jackson usually walks on the treadmill for 35 to 45 minutes a day. He has also “become accustomed to yoga,” and loves “the stretching and how it makes [his] body feel better and looser.” 

Jackson no longer has to take medication as his blood sugar is controlled by diet and exercise alone. “I go to the doctor four times a year to see where my sugars are. It’s a good thing to stay on top of the body because health is the biggest wealth we can have in the world,” he told WebMD

Gabourey Sidibe

In May 2016, Gabourey Sidibe decided to undergo bariatric surgery after many unsuccessful attempts to lose weight through diet and exercise. At 33, the star was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She told People Magazine that she decided to have the surgery because she, “just didn’t want to worry. [She] truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes.” She says she would “genuinely worry all the time about losing [her] toes.”

Sidibe attributes her success with weight loss surgery to a good diet and regular exercise.

The actress says, “I eat about five times a day — I use meal plans that are really, really good, especially for when I’m busy. I cook a lot more. I talk to my [dietitian] a lot. I just had an appointment with her on my laptop two days ago. We keep in touch. I tell her all the things I’m worried about. I have all these apps to help me keep a food diary.”

She works out with a trainer 3 to 4 days a week, and if she’s not with her trainer, she still makes movement a priority. “I’m as active as I can be, which is actually quite a lot. I have an Apple Watch that tracks me all the time. I have a tricycle at my house in L.A.; I also have a tricycle on set in Chicago. During my lunch break, I ride my tricycle around the block or I’ll ride it around [the] set. I stay as active as possible. I’m stronger, and I’m able to move more.” 

Star Jones

In 2003, Star Jones was diagnosed with morbid obesity after she reached 307 lbs. It was shortly after this that she decided to have surgery. The former talk-show host hasn’t always spoken openly about her struggles with weight and decision to undergo bariatric surgery.

Fans were not happy when she lost 160 lbs without an explanation. In 2012, she told Matt Lauer on the Today Show, “It really ticked them off. Because I was so public with all other aspects of my life I think the audience felt betrayed in some way. And I completely understand that.”

“I wasn’t full-figured,” she said. “I wasn’t plus-size. I was morbidly obese. I never thought I would be in front of a camera and say those words. I was morbidly obese.” Jones couldn’t walk up the stairs or the length of the airport without having to stop to catch her breath.

“My greatest fear was that I would die in my apartment alone from a stroke or a heart attack – too big to get to the phone. And I made up my mind that whatever it took, I was gonna lose that weight.”

After gastric bypass, Jones changed her diet and began to exercise more. She dropped from a size 26 to a 6. 

Jones’s message is simple: “Eat less and move more. It’s what saved my life.”

Conclusion

Although celebrities may seem very different than the average person, some of them struggle with their weight just like you. According to an article from Women’s Health, at least 20 celebrities have had weight loss surgery and openly shared their experiences. There seems to be a common thread among these celebrities: they all say that diet and exercise are what has helped them lose weight and keep it off, even after bariatric surgery. 

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