Governor Chris Christie confirms that he has had lap band surgery in an effort to lose weight.

Governor Christie during LBI town hall last week (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he tells the New York Post. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”

Spokesman spokesman Michael Drewniak  also confirmed the surgery with no additional comment.

ABC News reports that no one except his chief of staff and his family knew about the surgery until yesterday.

Christie's family and friends convinced him to have the surgery after his 50th birthday. The Republican agreed to the surgery but the process was cloaked in secrecy. He checked in to a surgery center on February 16 under an assumed name, according to the Post.

Dr. George Fielding from NYU Medical Center’s Weight Management Program, came to Christie's Mendham home for medical visits. Christie had the surgery early in the morning and came home the same day.

Christie also consulted with Jets coach Rex Ryan who lost 100 pounds following the surgery by Dr. Fielding in 2012. Both men are said to have weighed over 300 pounds before having a silicon tube placed around the top of his stomach which limits the amount of food that can be eaten leading to a fuller feeling with less after a meal.

Christie is said to have lost about 40 pounds so far.

Not For A 2016 Presidential Run

New York Post reports on Christie's surgery (NY Post)

Christie says a 2016 run for the White House was not even a consideration in his decision. “I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, ‘I have to do this for them, even if I don’t give a crap about myself,’ ” he told the Post.

One political insider, however, believes otherwise. “This means he’s running for president. He’s showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back,” a top political donor told The Post.

Positive Reaction, Past Controversy

Christie was a guest last week on MSNBC's Morning Joe to mark the six-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Co-host Mika Brzezinski, author of Obsessed: America's Food Addiction -- and My Own new book about her struggle with food, calls lap band an "extreme choice"  that requires lots of discipline to be successful "before and after" the surgery. Joe Scarborough says Christie is a "tough, hard charging person" who can make this work.

In Brzezinski's book Christie describes working out four times a week but not seeing major weight drops and hearing critics say that his weight shows he's undisciplined. He also talks about what others have said on Twitter, such as: "HEY GOVERNOR, WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST TODAY, ONE STICK OF BUTTER OR TWO?"

ABC News comparision of Governor Christie (ABC News)

ABC News posted a before-and-after picture showing Christie in 2010 and in 2013. White House Correspondent Jon Karl says he did not notice any difference at the Correspondent's Dinner.

Christie has joked about his weight loss. Ironically, just two weeks before undergoing the surgery he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and are two donuts as Letterman cracked jokes about his weight.  That appearance sparked a controversy when a former White House doctor from Arizona, Dr. Connie Mariano, offered unsolicited advice about his weight that was not met kindly by Christie. Unless Mariano gives him a physical exam and takes his family history, “she should shut up," he said. Mariano says they had a phone call that "wasn't very nice" to discuss his weight.

200,000 Procedures a Year

More than 200,000 lap band surgeries are performed every year according to Web MD. It is just one form of stomach surgery and for years was the most popular.

Gastric band surgery is pitched as a minimally-invasive procedure. One version of it is sold under the brand name Lap-Band. Its website says the surgery is appropriate for adults who have failed with more conservative alternatives, such as diet and exercise.

About half the patients undergoing the procedure needed additional surgeries to adjust the bands or deal with other complications, says Web MD but only about 1 in 20 patients opted to have the bands removed. A 2011 study from Belgium found that the bands eroded in 1 in 3 patients, while 60% required additional surgeries.

In recent years, however, the number of lap band surgeries has declined. “We have essentially stopped doing this operation,”  Ronald H. Clements, MD, who directs the bariatric surgery program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, tells Web MD.   “The sleeve and the bypass are just better for helping people lose weight and keep it off. That’s what we are seeing in our patients and that’s what the data are telling us.”

Gastric bypass surgery also reduces the size of the stomach to that of a golf ball. The surgery also bypasses a section of the small intestine, which limits calorie absorption.

The gastric sleeve procedure involves the surgical removal of a portion of the stomach to create a "sleeve" that connects to the small intestine.


The Associated Press contributed to this report