Before surgery. (Michael N. Todaro/WireImage)With her dad on June 4. (Twitter)Lauren Manzo's struggle to lose weight has been a major plot point this season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." Fans watched her try to diet and exercise — after her mother Caroline, who has struggled with her own weight, described her as "eight pounds of sausage in a five-pound bag" — but with little results, the 24-year-old opted to go under the knife. Manzo recently admitted that in September, she had lap band surgery, which has taken her weight from 185 pounds down to 155. "Something wasn't right with me," she tells Us Weekly as for why she decided to take such a drastic route. "I was depressed."
But now that she's down 30 pounds in nine months, she's much happier — and eagerly anticipating hitting her goal weight of 120. "Getting the lap band was the best thing I've ever done in my life," smiles Manzo, whose father Albert also had the weight loss surgery after the first season of "Real Housewives." "When I first got it, I didn't want to tell anybody. So many fans related to my struggle, I didn't want to feel like I was letting them down."
Although some are criticizing Manzo for taking the "lazy" route to dropping pounds, lap band surgery is becoming a lot more common these days, especially for overweight people who are not considered obese enough for the much more invasive gastric bypass. Dr. Michael Fiorillo, a New York City-based plastic surgeon who performs skin removal surgery on lap band patients after they've reached their goal weights, tells omg!, "I don't think [lap band surgery] is a quick fix. A lot of people have genetic problems. You have to meet certain criteria to get it. You're not just going to go in there and say, 'I want a band because I need to lose 10 pounds.' There has to be certain criteria: failed diets, a body mass index of 40."
Of the many pros for the surgery — which consists of a silicone band being placed around the stomach to make it smaller, therefore it takes less food to make a patient feel full — Dr. Fiorillo notes "some of the doctors do them in less than a half an hour, patients are home the same day, the risks are much less. They do it almost like you do a gallbladder, where it's two or three small incisions." A port is left open on the body so that the band can be adjusted, depending on a patient's needs, by simply adding more liquid to make the band tighter, or extracting liquid from the band to make it looser. Manzo told Us Weekly that she opted to have the band loosened so she could eat more food in May, and has since lost an additional 10 pounds thanks to a strict protein-and-vegetable diet and working out six days a week.
Despite the large success rate of patients who have opted for the lap band, there is still the chance of failure. Dr. Fiorillo estimates that about 20 percent of those he has worked with eventually gained the weight back. In addition to over-eating, patients can also "drink through" the band. In fact, Manzo has admitted that vodka is her "cheat." Says Dr. Fiorillo, "That seems to be one of the problems, like if you drink a lot of soda and shakes. There is also a certain amount of people who either just don't tolerate [the band] or don't lose the weight … You still need a healthy lifestyle. You can't just get the band — you still need to eat smart, make smart decisions, and exercise."
Lauren Manzo isn't the only famous name to opt for weight loss surgery. See who else went under the knife to get thin:
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The Wilson Phillips singer famously had a gastric bypass that was aired live on the Internet in 1999 and lost a jaw-dropping 150 pounds. But after two pregnancies, Wilson gained back nearly every bit, so in January, she had her second surgery, this time using the lap band — even though Wilson Phillips was in the middle of a touring schedule. Her bandmates Chynna Phillips and Wendy Wilson "have seen me go up and down with emotions about this, up and down in weight, and they've always been supportive," Carnie tells omg!. "I think we all just want to be healthy." And it appears to be paying off!
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When "The View" host debuted a drastically slimmed-down figure in 2003, she insisted it was simply the result of diet and exercise — even though reports were running rampant that she had gastric bypass. After five years of silence, Jones finally came clean to Glamour magazine in 2008, and this past February she returned to "The View" to discuss why she lied with her former co-workers. "I didn't feel safe enough to talk about it," said Jones, who once tipped the scales at 317 pounds. "I really want people to understand that women who are massively obese, they are not healthy." In the years after her surgery, Jones looked almost too skinny, but lately she has gained back a bit of the weight, which puts herself at a size that best suits her body type, while still being healthy.
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After suffering with type 2 diabetes, the "American Idol" judge decided in 2003 that it was time to get healthy — and quickly — so Jackson underwent gastric bypass and had an astonishing 95 percent of his stomach stapled, leaving it the size of "a few peanuts." "Listen, [the decision] was pretty tough," he has said, "because it's a pretty risky surgery still at its best." But in the end, Jackson dropped more than 100 pounds and finally got a "pretty good" handle on his disease. As for all those favorite foods he had to give up, he told People in 2004: "I figure I was a big fat guy for a long time. I've eaten so much of everything, I don't need to eat any of it again … I sleep much better. I have more energy. It's not about becoming sexy or skinny. It's about health."
Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison
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So much for that nickname! The "Pawn Stars" regular underwent lap band surgery in February 2011 when his doctor informed him he was pre-diabetic, turning him into a 100-pounds-lighter "Little Hoss" in just five months time. In addition to eating much less, Harrison has continued to drop the weight thanks to working out with a trainer five days a week and taking Krav Maga fighting classes. "I wake up in the morning and I'm not tired all day," he told People last year. "I have more good days than bad days. My knees don't hurt. My hips don't hurt. My back doesn't hurt. I can run now."
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