Rosie O'Donnell credits a vertical gastric sleeve surgery for her stunning 40-pound weight loss, People reported Feb. 14.
"I did it to save my life," said O'Donnell, who almost died of a heart attack in 2012. Rosie, who was pre-diabetic, also suffered from high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The 5-foot-7 O'Donnell underwent the bariatic surgery in July 2013, and has slimmed down from 230 to 190 pounds so far. Doctors have recommended she drop another 40 pounds.
In gastric-sleeve surgery, about 80 percent of the stomach is removed to create a small sleeve-shaped stomach, about the size of a banana. As a result, you get full after three or four bites of food and can no longer eat huge portions.
O'Donnell, 51, said she turned to weight-loss surgery after being unable to lose weight on her own through diet and exercise. She's now following a healthy diet and working out regularly by taking daily walks.
"She tried to lose weight on her own but it wasn't working," said her rep, Cindi Berger. "It was a life saving surgery. But it's only a tool, not a cure."
Rosie hopes her bariatric surgery will inspire other obese people to lose weight, overhaul their diets and exercise. She also wants women to be aware of heart-attack symptoms and be vigilant about their health.
O'Donnell joins a growing list of celebrities getting bariatric surgery. Comedian Lisa Lampanelli got the gastric-sleeve procedure in April 2012 and lost 106 pounds in less than a year.
Similarly, celebrity chef Graham Elliot has lost 128 pounds since getting gastric sleeve in July 2013. And "Today Show" star Al Roker lost 150 pounds after getting gastric bypass. Roker detailed his weight-loss journey in his memoir, Never Goin' Back: Winning the Weight Loss Battle For Good.
Weight-loss surgery has soared in popularity, as research confirms surgery beats diet and exercise for producing rapid weight loss. But bariatric surgeons are troubled by the stigma surrounding weight loss procedures.
"People lose sight of the fact that the patients aren't just obese, they're sick," said bariatric surgeon Dr. Alan Wittgrove. "It's not as easy as just losing weight."