Celebrities are typically open about their lives, but of course, they want their privacy at times — especially when they have health scares. Many stars have experienced health issues and tried recovering privately.
When they are ready, some celebrities open up about their health scares to bring awareness to others. Other times, the secret gets out in other ways. So which celebrities had to get surgery for their health? Here are 15 celebrities who shocked people after revealing their secret operations.
1. Angelina Jolie got a preventative double mastectomy
The Oscar winner often appears in tabloids, but she is actually pretty private. So Angelina Jolie shocked the world when she revealed she had a preventative double mastectomy. She found out she had the gene BRCA1, which put her at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Jolie revealed why she decided came forward with it in an op-ed.
“I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer,” Jolie wrote. “It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”
Next: This anchor kept her health issue a secret from her coworkers.
2. Erin Andrews had surgery for cervical cancer
The Dancing With the Stars co-host later revealed in an interview that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had surgery. While going through the ordeal, she didn’t tell her colleagues and continued working.
“Let’s just say the doctor didn’t recommend that,” Erin Andrews said. “But just as I felt during my trial, sports were my escape. I needed to be with my crew.”
Next: This TV host quietly stepped away to battle cancer.
3. Larry King underwent surgery due to lung cancer
Larry King revealed he had a cancerous mass that needed to be removed. After the surgery, the talk show host returned to Larry King Now without anyone knowing.
“I never thought it would happen to me,” King said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I saw all the warnings, but I never paid attention. I loved smoking, but when I had the heart attack that February of 1987, I stopped that day and never reached for one again.”
Next: A heart attack inspired this comedian to go under the knife.
4. Rosie O’Donnell had vertical gastric sleeve surgery
Doctors recommended that this actress should lose weight after she had a heart attack. “I had a heart attack at 50,” Rosie O’Donnell, said according to People. “When I woke up, they said, ‘You should have died.’ Doctors said, ‘We need you to lose 50 lbs. in the next year, but you can’t have surgery or anything in the next year because you’ve had a heart attack.’”
She dropped 64 lbs. after the procedure.
Next: This untimely death shocked the tech world.
5. Steve Jobs only told a few colleagues about his pancreatic cancer
In 2011, the Apple CEO and largest Disney shareholder died suddenly after a hush-hush battle with pancreatic cancer. The 56-year-old had fought a rare form of the disease since 2003 — undergoing surgery during that time — as a couple close contacts cheered him on. When the tumor returned in 2009, Jobs had a liver transplant but he soon came to terms with his low chance of being able to live a long, healthy life.
Next: This actress can thank her father for her health.
6. Sarah Hyland got a kidney transplant due to kidney dysplasia
The Modern Family star secretly received a kidney transplant due to kidney dysplasia. “I was in pain a lot of the time,” Sarah Hyland revealed on Good Morning America. “If I didn’t get 12 hours of sleep I felt like I got none at all.” Her father donated a kidney to her in 2012.
Next: A Dancing With the Stars alum quietly goes under the knife.
7. Brooke Burke-Charvet juggled a family, DWTS, and thyroid cancer
In 2013, the former co-host of Dancing With the Stars did it all; she raised four kids, appeared on the ABC show, and … received a thyroid cancer diagnosis. While the news shocked loved ones, Brooke Burke-Charvet chose to battle cancer away from the spotlight.
“I really needed to be a great patient and be responsible and do what the doctor suggested and just take it very seriously,” Burke-Charvet told the Huffington Post. Once her doctors cleared her of cancer, she went public to raise awareness.
Next: This comedian’s surgery was revealed on Dancing With the Stars.
8. Chris Kattan got surgery after breaking his neck
The former Saturday Night Live cast member was often described as “stiff” when performing on Dancing With the Stars. But Chris Kattan revealed the culprit: an injury he got from doing a stunt during his time on SNL.
“I broke my neck and I had four surgeries regarding that, the last 20 years basically,” Chris Kattan said according to Extra. “One in my back, one through the throat… I had to be careful for a really long time.” He later added, “When you have surgery, you’re out of commission for months. It’s embarrassing. You [can’t] go out in public.”
Next: A friend secretly saved Selena Gomez’s life.
9. Selena Gomez got a kidney transplant due to lupus
I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith
Selena Gomez has been open in the past about the fact that she suffers from lupus. After her Revival World Tour, the young singer took a hiatus because she suffered from “anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.” She also had to undergo chemotherapy.
But many still didn’t know about other measures she had to go to for her health, like getting a kidney transplant. After the surgery Gomez revealed that actress Francia Raisa donated a kidney to her because her kidneys were shutting down.
“The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me,” Gomez said on Today. “Let alone somebody wanting to volunteer, it is incredibly difficult to find a match. The fact that she was a match, that’s unbelievable. That’s not real.”
Raisa also talked about the fear of surgery to donate. “I had to write a will, which was scary,” she said. “Because there was no guarantee you’ll wake up.”
Next: This “doctor” didn’t know how to manage her diagnosis.
10. Kate Walsh quickly and quietly had her brain tumor removed
In 2015, Kate Walsh received a brain tumor diagnosis as she wrapped up work on NBC show Bad Judge. The former Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice star found it ironic that she transitioned from “doctor” to patient, as she underwent surgery three days later.
Doctors confirmed the meningioma — typically surrounding the brain and spinal cord — was benign. “With a tumor that size pressing on her brain, they told her she was lucky to have had no seizures,” the Huffington Post reported nearly two years later, when Walsh decided to go public with the information.
Next: This TV star was diagnosed while working on her hit show.
11. Cobie Smulders got surgery for ovarian cancer
The How I Met Your Mother star was diagnosed during Season 3. “I had tumors on both ovaries,” Cobie Smulders told Women’s Health. “And the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues.”
She had to have multiple surgeries to remove cancerous tissue.
Next: This comedian didn’t want to become a poster boy for a disease.
12. George Lopez got a kidney transplant
The comedian got a kidney transplant with a donated kidney from his then-wife, Ann. At first, George Lopez didn’t want to go public about it. “‘I’m not going to be the poster boy for kidney disease,'” Ann claimed he said. But Lopez changed his mind later and became a spokesperson for National Kidney Foundation.
Next: This TV personality tried to stop co-hosts from sharing her secret.
13. Star Jones got gastric bypass surgery
The former host of The View reportedly asked her co-stars to lie about her surgery. But when she was ready, she opened up about why she got it.
“My weight gain began to take a physical toll,” Star Jones wrote for Glamour. “I couldn’t breathe without sounding winded; walk without getting tired; sleep without snoring; or take a flight without using a seat belt extender.”
Next: This TV star’s surgery resulted in unhealthy weight loss.
14. Mark Harmon got knee surgery
The NCIS star reportedly got surgery on his knee and had to go through rehabilitation. “About a year ago, he had surgery on his knee,” a source told Radar Online. “It was an old football injury.”
The actor reportedly lost weight going through the ordeal but improved after recovery.
Next: This comedian got surgery for a rare health condition.
15. Sarah Silverman had surgery for epiglottitis
The comedian had intense surgery due to epiglottitis. There was swelling of a cartilage lid that can block the windpipe, and therefore stop air from getting to the lungs.
Sarah Silverman didn’t reveal this surgery until afterward via a message on Facebook.
Next: This singer returned to Instagram sharing why she had been absent.
16. Jessie J had surgery for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
On fleek to on bleek real quick | lol Before | After I'm going to be offline for a few days and I wanted to show you why | I don't often share personal stuff (especially about my health) anymore | I just get on with it secretly | but I wanted to share with you before someone else might and it gets twisted and exaggerated into something different or worse. Meh. Just know I am ok as I say in the video on the right | I had an operation yesterday so need to rest | I won't be saying what for so PLEASE don't keep asking me or harassing my close ones on here or anywhere for information | Its personal and I know you can respect that | I just wanted to explain to my fans why I may go AWOL for a minute | Love, prayers and well wishes is all I need ❤️ Sleep | rest | maybe some pie and mash but mostly focusing my mind on getting my body better | and for the record it's not my heart or my voice | my heart and voice are FINE | ✊ I want to take a moment to send a virtual hug and kiss out to anyone in pain or suffering at the moment. In hospital or at home. There is always someone worse off than us and in moments like this I pray for you all | Hospitals have been my secret second home my whole life and they never get nice to be in | But they can inspire a great song | Trying to see the positive in everything ☺️ Night gown could be good for the Voice live shows look too right? No? Too Much? ☕️ lol Peace out for a minute people As Arni said on Graham Norton last night | "I'll be back"
The singer revealed the reason why she hadn’t been on social media in an Instagram post in 2015. It turned out that she had surgery due to a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
The singer canceled tour dates earlier that year because of her health.
Next: This Oscar nominee revealed in her book that she got surgery.
17. Gabourey Sidibe got gastric bypass surgery for Type 2 diabetes
The Oscar-nominated actress revealed in her memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare that she got gastric bypass surgery. Part of the reason had to do with being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes,” Gabourey Sidibe told People. “I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes.”
Next: This politician revealed his surgery months later.
18. Chris Christie got lap-band surgery
The New Jersey governor had lap-band surgery, then later opened up about it in an interview.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he told the New York Post. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
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