New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has steadily been losing weight since undergoing lap-band surgery seven months ago. While his weight loss has not been dramatic, bariatric surgeons say Christie's transformation has boosted interest in gastric-band and -bypass surgeries.
“We had more media attention than we ever had [after Christie's surgery],” Dr. Jaime Ponce told the Seattle Times Oct. 5. “It was amazing how many phone calls we received, and I think that’s because many people expect him to run for president.”
Ponce, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, has performed more than 3,000 weight-loss surgeries during his career.
Christie, 51, underwent the 40-minute lap-band procedure in February 2013. The gastric-band operation involves having a silicone band placed around the stomach to create a pouch the size of a golf ball, limiting the amount of food the patient is able to ingest.
Basically, it forces patients to follow a very-low-calorie diet. Patients often lose one to two pounds a week, and shed 40 to 50 percent of their body weight within a year.
Gov. Christie hasn't disclosed how much weight he has lost, but says he's "more than halfway" to his goal weight. Ponce estimates the New Jersey governor has shed 60 to 70 pounds so far, and says it could take another year or two for him to look dramatically thinner.
As an example, Ponce pointed to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who lost 106 pounds and 10 inches from his waist after undergoing lap-band surgery in 2010. “It took [Ryan] a while to see a notable difference,” he said. “After one year, people were saying that he wasn’t losing much weight, that it wasn’t working. Now look at him. The difference is notable.”
Christie readily admitted that he was inspired to get gastric-band surgery after seeing his pal Rex Ryan's amazing weight loss. Gov. Christie, who has been overweight all his life, said the best thing about the lap-band operation is that he no longer feels the constant need to eat.
"I’m not nearly as interested in food as I used to be," he said. In addition to following a low-calorie diet, Christie works out with a trainer four days a week, doing cardio exercise and weight-lifting.
Christie said he's happy with his progress, but is leery of getting overconfident for fear he may regain the weight. His concern is warranted, say weight-loss surgeons.
"What a lot of people don’t see is how difficult it is to maintain the weight loss," said Dr. Beth Schrope. "It requires a lot of work. This is not an easy way out.”