‘Top Chef’ Host Padma Lakshmi Had to Wait 23 Years to Get a Painful Diagnosis That Changed Her Life: ‘I Started Getting Really Pissed’

There are times when even the best doctors can’t figure out health issues. Anyone who has been in that position knows just how frustrating it can be, especially when they have to deal with pain on a regular basis. Celebrity host Padma Lakshmi is someone who has had this experience, and she looks back with sadness with all she went through for over two decades.

The author, model, and television host started her career in 1991, modeling for top designers and went on to land a gig as the host and one of the judges for the show Top Chef. In addition to many acting roles, Lakshmi is the author of several cookbooks and a memoir, however, behind the scenes, she dealt with a painful condition for a long time.

Padma Lakshmi in front of a yellow and pink background
Padma Lakshmi | Rich Fury/Getty Images

The Top Chef host actually had to wait 23 years to get a painful diagnosis that changed her life, saying “I started getting really pissed.”

Lakshmi has a great career despite having symptoms

Over the years, Lakshmi has really made a name for herself. According to Mashed, she is “the face of television cooking”, and her success didn’t come without hard work. Born in India, the star was raised vegetarian, and while she enjoyed her time as one of the world’s most coveted models, she has mixed feelings about that time in her life.

Lakshmi has spoken about her modeling, saying:

“I know that my looks are really the alchemy of my parents’ genetics and have little to do with me or any accomplishment of my own.”

The icon went on to the world of acting, and soon authored a cookbook which really allowed her career to take off. Lakshmi began hosting Top Chef in 2006, although, unknown to some people, she was dealing with painful symptoms along the way. Starting at 13, the symptoms went undiagnosed by doctors, leaving Lakshmi to suffer in silence until she was 36 years old.

How was she finally diagnosed?

23 years is a long time for anyone to not know what is wrong, so how and when did doctors finally discover what the problem was? It turns out that Lakshmi was suffering from endometriosis, and doctors finally had the answers she needed after the model underwent necessitated laparoscopic excision surgery.

Prevention can report that displaced endometrium tissue was also removed out of her uterus, and it left Lakshmi feeling beyond frustrated. She said,

“It wasn’t until a year after the surgery that I started getting really pissed. I lost a week of my life every month of every year since I was 13 because of this s—, and I could have had this operation at 20 rather than 36?”

So, how did the TV host cope with the pain before the diagnosis? According to WebMD, she used a heating pad under the judges’ table, sat down when the cameras weren’t on her, and took the time to lay down in her dressing room when needed. 

Why did Lakshmi start the Endometriosis Foundation of America?

Lakshmi certainly didn’t forget about others with the condition after her diagnosis. After 19 biopsies and 2 surgeries, she became angry that her endometriosis went undiagnosed for so long, which led her to start the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

She knows that 1 out of 10 women suffer from the condition, and realized she had to raise awareness. The symptoms include severe cramping, headaches, nausea, and numbness, and Lakshmi urges anyone who thinks that they might be affected to seek medical help as soon as possible. It is wonderful that the actor and host was finally able to get some answers, and she says,

“I feel like I’ve finally unlocked and kicked away the chain that’s been invisibly wrapped around my ankle for all these decades.”

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