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Alana Thompson, AKA ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Is Considering Weight Loss Surgery

You may have read the recent news about Alana Thompson, famous as ‘Honey Boo Boo,’ in the hit TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, thinking about weight loss surgery. While she would not be the first celebrity to take the surgical route, a few thoughts surrounding her next step in improving her weight and overall health are interesting and should be discussed.

Before we do that, it is important to congratulate her on considering a very important step toward taking control of her life and health. It’s never easy to decide to undergo significant weight loss, so she should be commended for exploring this opportunity and all it entails. There is also a larger conversation to be had about Miss Thompson’s age, and this is certainly to be discussed in another blog. But for now, the current conversation touches on some important factors, including what this “newer” procedure is, and the expectations/myths of weight loss surgery in general.

Interestingly, it has been reported that she is thinking about an endoscopic gastric sleeve. Endoscopy is a relatively new and emerging technique in bariatric surgery. Rather than making incisions in the abdomen to access the stomach, the entire procedure is performed through the mouth by threading an endoscope and appropriate surgical tools down the esophagus and into the stomach. At this point, sutures are deployed to reshape the gastric pouch roughly the same shape and size as a traditional surgical gastric sleeve. Unlike the sleeve, however, the sutures do not cut away the outer portion of the stomach. While the procedure is still performed under general anesthesia, it is done in an outpatient center with no overnight stay. The results of an endoscopic sleeve can be excellent with up to 20% excess body weight loss.

Cost of the Endoscopic Sleeve

You might’ve noticed articles describing the procedure talking about Miss Thompson potentially paying upwards of $13,000. Of course, we don’t know exactly how much her surgeon has quoted, but endoscopic sleeves are not yet covered under insurance. As such, anyone who wishes to undergo this procedure will need to self-pay for it, at least until it is approved for insurance coverage. The cost of an endoscopic sleeve will vary from practice to practice and between surgery centers. Most importantly, patients should employ a practice with extensive experience in endoscopic bariatric procedures.

Doing It Together

Another exciting part of Miss Thompson’s journey is that she may have surgery with a friend around the same time. This can be a good idea. Having a partner in the same position as you, especially a close friend or relative, can be very helpful in managing postoperative challenges and celebrating those same successes. The journey does not end with the surgery. Aftercare, support, and long-term fitness and lifestyle changes can be easier if you navigate them with someone else.


A concerning part of Ms. Thompson’s discussion with Entertainment Tonight revolves around a couple of soundbites:

“…you basically lose 100 pounds basically instant{ly}”1

Let’s take each of these comments one by one. When discussing how much you will lose, it’s important not to think about how quickly you’ll drop the weight but how sustainably you can do it. Many bariatric surgery patients have lost 100 pounds at a time with diet and exercise. The issue was the weight regain and the inability to maintain that weight loss. Anybody who wants to consider bariatric surgery needs to know that losing a few pounds a week over the first year is the healthiest and safest way to take the weight off and ultimately maintain that weight loss long term.

“So, I just think I don’t have motivation, and I feel like the surgery would be, like, probably the easiest way to just, like, lose it fast.” 1

This comes down to one of the most fundamental discussions about bariatric surgery. The fact is that weight loss surgery is not the easy way out and is by no means a walk in the park. Bariatric surgery is simply a tool to allow for long-term significant weight loss, but it requires substantial focus and dedication from the patient. A new diet, exercise in general lifestyle will be necessary to help ensure success. Unfortunately, patients who are not ready for their surgery or the changes they need to make often aren’t able to reach there potentially even after surgery.

Ms. Thompson is in the early stages of deciding on her long-term weight loss goals, and her medical team will almost surely bring up the concerns above. Most importantly, Miss Thompson and any patient looking for a procedural solution to their excess weight must be ready and willing to put in the time and dedication required to be successful over the long term.

Thank you to Dr. Andre Teixeira, a bariatric surgeon in Orlando, FL, for reviewing this blog. While he is not the surgeon expected to perform the procedure on Ms. Thompson, he is an expert and pioneer in endoscopic bariatric solutions, including the endoscopic sleeve.



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