May 7, 2013 at 7:27 AM ET
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has revealed that he secretly underwent lap-band stomach surgery just over two months ago to lose weight, saying it was for the sake of his family.
Christie, 50, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in a phone conversation that he had the surgery on Feb. 16, just before the President's Day holiday weekend. He said he resumed his very tough work schedule that Tuesday, and has not had any complications.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he told The New York Post, which first reported the story. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
Christie, who has had weight issues for decades, denied that trying to lose a significant amount of weight was a move toward a possible presidential run.
“It’s so much more important than that,’’ he told the Post.
The surgery lasted 40 minutes and Christie was back home that day, according to the Post. Before undergoing the procedure, he talked with New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who had lap-band surgery in 2010, which was reported by the Post and confirmed by Christie's press secretary, Mike Drewniak. Ryan dropped about 100 pounds following the surgery after having weighed as much as 350 pounds. Christie hired Dr. George Fielding of NYU Medical Center's Weight Management Program, who also performed Ryan's surgery.
Lap-band surgery is not as invasive as a gastric bypass. A band squeezes the stomach so that the pouch of the stomach is smaller. Patients eat less and feel fuller sooner, according to NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman. Christie is the “perfect candidate” for this surgery with more than 100 pounds to lose and a body-mass index over 40, Snyderman said.
“A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full,” Christie told The Post.
Christie joked during a February appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" that he is the “healthiest fat guy around” because he does not have high blood pressure or diabetes. He is capable of losing 100 or more pounds as a result of the surgery, according to Snyderman.
On May 24, Christie will join TODAY as a co-host of the second hour when the show broadcasts live from the Jersey Shore.