In Hollywood, most stars have surgery for reasons that have nothing to do with health. A few have an operation to fix something about themselves that they've always hated—and this sort of procedure sends their self-esteem through the roof. But just as with anyone else—having a procedure done may sometimes be required. No one wants this kind of surgery, but in order to keep living and thriving, it's something even celebrities have to do at times. Having a medical or life-threatening procedure is never fun and the recovery time is long, tedious and hurts but they pull through and keep going—the better for having had the procedure in the first place.
Often we won't hear about these emergency procedures until after the stars are recovered and able to handle the onslaught of attention which their personal news will bring—and that's completely understandable. When we're in a situation like that, we want to keep the information close and ourselves out of the limelight until we feel safe and comfortable enough to handle everyone's reactions. A few celebrities will swing the other way and over-share everything in a minute by minute detail—but that's fine too since we all have that one relative or friend who over-shares everything going on in their lives. So, in case we missed something, here's a short list of celebrities who've had life-saving surgery.
15 Selena Gomez: In Need Of A Kidney
Disney child star Selena Gomez has battled lupus for years now and it finally took a nasty turn in 2017 when her kidneys started shutting down. According to Global News, she stated, "My kidneys were just done. That was it." Despite the love and support of her friends and family, Selena didn't want to ask any of them to donate a kidney and who can blame her?
That's not exactly an easy thing to ask for, especially for those of us who are more socially awkward. But one of her best friends came to her rescue and Francia Raisa volunteered to give Selena kidney. The two girls had a rough recovery with Selena suffering a complication that required a 6-hour surgery to repair a major vein to help keep the kidney in place. Both pulled through and are stronger than ever.
14 Angelina Jolie: Preventive Procedures
Angelina Jolie made headlines in 2015 when she underwent several surgeries to lower her risk of following in her mother and grandmother's footsteps. Ms. Jolie feared passing from cancer before she could watch her babies grow up and thrive in the world. When her blood markers came back with indicators of a possible cancer forming, she took a few rather drastic steps to beat the cancer before it even appeared. She had a double mastectomy and the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
While being plunged into instant menopause and not being able to have more biological children was an adjustment, Angelina told Glamour Magazine that she "made the choices I made because I believed they were right for me." Jolie’s gamble has so far paid off which is good news for her kids.
13 Orlando Bloom: A Visible Reminder
When the unknown actor Orlando Bloom was 21, he fell from a three-story building and badly injured his back—to the point where doctors told him he would never walk again. Apparently, he didn’t like that message because—through intensive therapy and hard work—Orlando walked again and went on to do many of his own stunts in various films.
According to Daily Mail, he is "always working on my back." The only sign of this potentially devastating accident is a massive scar along his spine where doctors worked to patch him back up. Orlando says it has never prevented him from doing anything but simply serves as a constant reminder of his past and what he's worked through. Whether it's appreciated or not remains to be seen.
12 Sarah Hyland: Daddy To The Rescue
Modern Family star Sarah Hyland was born with a condition known as dysplasia where the kidneys don’t properly form in the womb. After battling this condition for years, things came to a critical moment when, in 2012, she needed a new kidney. Sarah’s dad came to her rescue and did what any loving parent would do; he volunteered one of his kidneys. After the surgery was confirmed a success, she sang his praises to the world.
According to Daily Mail, five years later she still takes an immunosuppressant steroid to keep her body from rejecting the organ and one side-effect is facial swelling known as "moon face." She handles this with humor and a daily facial massage in the hopes of relieving the swelling. She states, "I don't know if it works or not."
11 Sarah Silverman: Just A Sore Throat
Comedian Sarah Silverman went to the hospital with what she thought was a simple sore throat in 2016, but it turned out to be epiglottis—a condition where the cartilage lid that covers the windpipe swells and cuts off the airflow to the lungs. If not treated immediately, this particular condition could wind up being fatal for the patient.
Sarah spent over a week in the ICU while doctors worked to save her life and operated on her sore throat. Because of the severity of the condition she had to be on many medications, leaving her concerned friends and family some very confusing notes, and then went home where she came down off the meds and had to process what had happened to her. Sarah’s sense of humor prevailed and—according to Us Magazine—she was moved to tears by her friends and family—which made Sarah’s throat hurt.
10 Andrea Syron: Had To Have A Procedure To Prevent A Stroke
Actress Andrea Syron was born with a condition known as arteriovenous malformations or AVM, where she had a gathering of blood vessels which could lead to an aneurysm, blood clot or stroke. The only problem is that she didn't know she had this condition and that any moment could've been her last. According to Caters News, she said, "I could have had a massive stroke," further adding that the unusual blood vessel connections were inside the lining of her brain.
Andrea was always told that the buzzing sound in her ear was just allergies or a cold, but when it changed to a whooshing sound—doctors took a closer look and discovered the ticking time bomb in her head. Surgery was performed to remove some of the blood vessels and Andrea made a full recovery.
9 Kevin Smith: Life-Saving Decision
In February this year, actor and director Kevin Smith was scheduled to do two comedy shows in Glendale when he suffered a heart attack. According to Extra, he made the life-saving decision to cancel the second show and go to the hospital where the doctor told Kevin that he had a "100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka ‘the Widow-Maker’). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve [passed] tonight." After clearing the blockage,
Kevin was presumably sent home to recover while fans and fellow celebrities (including Chris Pratt) tweeted their sympathies and get-well wishes. He's expected to make a full recovery and is obviously very glad that his decision was the right one to make at the time. Hopefully, this will be his only brush with death and he'll continue on in his career for many years to come.
8 Serena Williams: Tennis Star's Career Almost Came To An Early End
Tennis star Serena Williams is arguably the all-time best female tennis star in the entire world. But in 2012 her career was at risk of coming to an early end. After recovering from a badly injured foot, doctors spotted a clot in one of Serena's lungs and operated to remove it before it could threaten the tennis star's life.
According to Celebs Now, her rep stated, "Thankfully everything was caught in time." After the surgery, Serena was sent home to recuperate under the strict medical supervision and made a full recovery. She continues to dominate in the tennis world of sports and shows no signs of stopping. Although she did understandably slow down for a few months and allow her body time to fully recover from her cut foot and emergency lung surgery before getting back out on the court.
7 Kate Walsh: Exhaustion Turned Into A Serious Health Risk
Actress Kate Walsh found herself struggling in 2015 after wrapping up work on Bad Judge. She figured she was just exhausted from working insanely long hours and decided to switch things up by going back to easy things like hiking. But, according to Cosmopolitan, things didn't improve. Kate began dipping and drifting toward the right, she felt tired all the time and she began struggling to finish her sentences.
Finally, she went to her doctor who found a brain tumor (called a meningioma) the size of a lemon. She was immediately operated on to have the tumor removed and it was discovered to be benign. After fully recovering, Kate changed her stance on doctor visits and encourages fans to do their annual visits and advocate for their own health.
6 John Barrowman: Handled His Procedure With A Sense Of Humor
When it’s an emergency, sometimes the best option is to keep our sense of humor very close at hand and whip it out occasionally. It helps to keep us and everyone around us sane. So it's no surprise that when he collapsed in agony in 2017, John Barrowman kept his sense of humor handy as he was rushed to the hospital. He updated fans with a short video stating that he had to have emergency surgery after suffering appendicitis.
According to The Mirror, his mom and sister visited him in the hospital where he recuperated and he posted a picture of himself, stating, "Got my fan made #TARDIS socks on keeping my feet warm in the hospital." Despite being sore all over, Barrowman delighted his fans and made a full recovery so he could continue doing what he does best.
5 Skeet Ulrich: Had A Bit Of Heart Time
Actor Skeet Ulrich had a rough childhood. He was often ill during his childhood and suffered frequent pneumonia. At the age of 10, doctors found a serious problem. According to Los Angeles Magazine, Skeet had "a cleft mitral valve and a hole in his ventricular wall."
This required open heart surgery to correct and caused a large scar to form on his chest which Skeet grew to be defensive about to this day. He started acting in 1995 and appeared in the short-lived hit show, Jericho, as the lead hero Jake. He was just as devastated as the fans when the network cut the show.
His current project is Riverdale where he plays the father figure known as FP Jones. He enjoys woodworking in his spare time and makes beautiful furniture by hand.
4 George Lopez: Emergency Transplant To Save His Life
Comedian George Lopez suffers from a genetic condition which causes kidney deterioration and in 2005, found himself in need of a new kidney. He didn't have to look too far; his loving wife Ann donated one of her own. When his film projects were wrapped up, the couple underwent surgery and recovered together in their lovely LA home. The operation vastly improved his health and he lost 45 pounds.
According to Fox News, the couple had been married for 12 years at that point and had one child together. While the operation was life-saving, it ultimately didn't save their marriage. Ann filed for divorce in 2010, citing irreconcilable differences. Still, George will always have her kidney to treasure and remember her by; after all, not everyone just gives away one of their organs willy-nilly.
3 Amy Purdy: Famous Snowboarder Was In Septic Shock
Amy Purdy grew up active and became a snowboarder when she was 15, intending to make that her career. But at 19 her world completely flipped inside out when she contracted bacterial meningitis and had to fight off a septic shock. The battle resulted in the loss of her legs at the knee and multiple organ failures, requiring a kidney transplant. Her father stepped up and donate done on his own without batting an eye.
After her recovery, Amy pushed herself to achieve new goals which she never thought would challenge her before her illness and she got back into snowboarding just a few months later. According to CNBC, she said, "In order to move forward, I knew I had to let go of the old Amy somehow and learn to embrace the new Amy."
2 Kathy Bates: Once A Survivor, Always A Survivor
In 2003, Kathy Bates battled ovarian cancer but kept her struggle on the down-low due to all the stigma surrounding the disease at the time and her career in Hollywood. But when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she decided to own the disease and make her struggle public. She underwent a successful double mastectomy and beat cancer.
But according to E!, she still suffers from a condition known as lymphedema where there is swelling in the arms and legs which can occur after lymph nodes are damaged or removed during cancer surgery. She states, "My mother had had a radical mastectomy—they took everything —and her arm swelled terribly." Beyond that, the actress is doing well and owning her new flat look. Except for a role, she doesn't wear her prostheses.
1 Sandra Lee: Foodie Star Goes To Battle
Celebrity Chef and Food Network star, Sandra Lee, was diagnosed in 2015 with ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS. DCIS is a noninvasive form of breast cancer contained in the milk ducts which can become invasive if left untreated. Sandra opted for her best option which was a double mastectomy and reconstruction.
After her recovery, she started speaking out to raise awareness. One of her revelations throughout the process, according to People, was on beauty. She stated, "Beauty is owning who you are no matter what stage of life you’re in or what diagnosis you’re given."
The celebrity is still going strong and encouraging others along the way, letting them know that no matter what — they are still beautiful. That's a positive message all of us can use.