Jessica Simpson’s new memoir, Open Book, reveals intimate details of some of the most vulnerable moments of her life. One of many situations the mother of two touches on: her negative experience with plastic surgery after undergoing two tummy tuck procedures against doctor’s orders.
The first tummy tuck was in July of 2015, but Simpson shares that it had nothing to do with weight loss. “I weighed 107 pounds when I planned the surgery. I wanted to get rid of the stretch marks and loose skin left sagging from my back-to-back pregnancies.” At the time, the former pop singer revealed she was so ashamed of her body, she couldn’t even look at herself in the mirror. “I was so ashamed of my body at this point that I wouldn’t let Eric [Johnson] see me without a white T-shirt on. I had sex with it on and even showered with it on. I couldn’t bear to look at myself.”
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While her intentions were in the right place, elevated liver enzymes from Simpson’s alcohol and pill addiction forced her surgeon to suggest against the partial tummy tuck. She pens that her doctor warned her if she did not stop drinking and taking pills for three months before the surgery, she “could die.” Kirkland, WA plastic surgeon Sarah McMillan, MD contends that a healthy liver is crucial for any procedure. “Damage to the liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption can lead to bleeding after surgery and nutritional deficiencies that impair wound healing,” she adds.
Intent on changing her body, Simpson went on with the surgery despite her doctor’s warning. Thankfully, the procedure went well, but the 39-year-old was not happy with the results. “I still had loose skin that hung over my pants,” she wrote. So she scheduled another tummy tuck just two months later—this time, a full tummy tuck, which involves the entire abdomen, from beneath the breasts to the public area (a partial tummy tuck only tightens the skin up to the belly button). “This surgery was more involved,” said Simpson. “There was a sense that something was going to go wrong from the get-go, even though I stopped drinking to prepare.”
Then Simpson found out what was wrong. “It did not go well. I got an infection—colitis—and was vomiting so much I thought I was going to bust my sutures.” Dr. McMillan says colitis is inflammation of the colon, and can be caused by infections, autoimmune diseases or loss of blood supply. “This is not a typical post-operative complication after tummy tuck so there is more to the story,” adds Dr. McMillan.
Simpson was then rushed to the hospital where she remained for nine days. “Doctors talked seriously about me needing a blood transfusion.” She eventually made a full recovery and was able to feel “like myself again,” but found out that plastic surgery didn’t heal the confidence issues she expected it to. “I can tell you that plastic surgery does not cure what’s inside. Really, it’s about how you feel emotionally, and I was still just as hard on myself once those stitches were out.”