Rosie O’Donnell looks fantastic after losing 64 pounds following gastric sleeve surgery, but said weight loss surgery isn’t a magic pill or an easy way out. O’Donnell said her July 2013 bariatric procedure saved her life.
“Once you have the surgery, it’s not a magic pill,” Rosie told People. “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.”
O’Donnell echoed the sentiments of many bariatric surgeons, who are troubled by the stigma surrounding weight loss surgery. “People lose sight of the fact that the patients aren’t just obese, they’re sick,” bariatric surgeon Dr. Alan Wittgrove told CNN. “It’s not as easy as just losing weight.”
Dr. Wittgrove said it’s unfair that weight loss surgery is viewed as the lazy person’s way out of obesity, saying no one would accuse someone who gets cancer surgery of being lazy.
Bariatric surgery has soared in popularity, as research indicates surgery beats diet and exercise for producing dramatic weight loss and reversing type 2 diabetes.
Magic Johnson’s son, reality TV star EJ Johnson, recently lost 180 pounds less than a year after getting gastric sleeve surgery. EJ also insisted weight loss surgery is not the easy way out.
“A lot of people think it’s the easy way out, but it’s not,” Johnson said. “It’s a step in the right direction, just a big push.”
Rosie Suffered Near-Fatal Heart Attack in 2012
O’Donnell decided to undergo vertical gastric sleeve surgery after suffering a heart attack in 2012. She said that was a turning point in her life. Rosie, who was pre-diabetic before her bariatric procedure, has since gotten off all medications.
Rosie maintains her 64-pound weight loss by following a low carb, sugar-free diet and walking every day for exercise. O’Donnell also stopped drinking alcohol and started meditating 20 minutes a day, twice a day.
The 5-foot-7 O’Donnell, who once tipped the scales at 237 pounds, now weighs a healthier 173 pounds and can fit into a size medium T-shirt. While most people may think rapid weight loss would make them happy, Rosie said the dramatic transformation was nerve-wracking.
A lot of people who have never had weight issues their whole life would assume that losing weight would be only full of happiness and positivity, but that’s not true. It’s also full of anxiety and vulnerability. “
O’Donnell, who has overcome severe depression with Prozac and therapy, is grateful to be healthy and has no regrets about her surgery.
“In my opinion, [weight loss surgery is] something that needs a little more attention for people who have suffered morbid obesity their whole lives,” Rosie said. “This has really, really helped me.”