Rich Kids of Beverly Hills Star Jonny Drubel Tells the Truth About His “Secret” Weight Loss Surgery

Jager Weatherby on 29 Oct 2014 at 4:00pm

Jonny Drubel

If you pay attention to the world of reality TV, you probably saw this headline from a few weeks back: “EJ Johnson Reveals Jonny Drubel's Secret Surgery — See the Shocking #RichKids Finale Recap!”

The click-inducing article explained a scene in the Season 2 closer of the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, in which castmate EJ Johnson shared some unexpected info with his sister. “EJ mentions he's thinking about doing a weight loss surgery, like Jonny Drubel did,” E! Online writes. “Yes, you read that correctly! Jonny had a lap-band weight loss procedure.”

The way the article reads is as if Jonny attempted to hide or was even ashamed of his surgery, when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. “I wasn’t trying to keep it private,” Jonny exclusively tells RealSelf. “If someone asks me how I lost the weight, I say, ‘I diet, I workout, and I have the lap-band.’”

MORE: The lap-band has an 88% Worth It rating on RealSelf. Read more reviews here.

In fact, Jonny hopes to be an inspiration to others who want to get healthy, especially since he’s very familiar with the struggles that come from being overweight. After getting diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism as a child, Jonny’s weight rapidly increased. “By the time I was 18, I was, like, 370 pounds,” he explains. “And, of course, there’s everything that comes along with that.”

At the same time he was struggling with his body, Jonny was dealing with a larger issue of identity — one that only perpetuated the cycle of weight gain. “With people who are overweight, I rarely think it’s a sign of laziness. It’s more of an emotional and mental problem. I gained a lot of weight because I was trying to come to terms with my sexuality. That was very difficult for me and that can lead to an addiction. Some people turn to alcohol, some people turn to drugs. A lot of Americans turn to food because it’s just so available. I think that’s the hard part of having an addiction to food. We have to eat to survive, so who’s going to stop us when it’s always around no matter where we go?”

Jonny tried every method to lose the weight before someone mentioned the idea of surgery. “I did my research and I presented the idea to my parents. They were really supportive. They knew that I struggled with it and got picked on a lot because of my weight.”

Jonny Drubel Before Lap BandThe decision to get a lap-band came to fruition in September 2007, after Jonny moved from New Hampshire to L.A. to pursue a career in music. “Every time I’d go home and see my friends in New Hampshire, that’s when I’d realize how much weight I was actually losing,” he explains. “They’d see the transformation: the three-month mark, the eight-month mark, the year mark. You’d see it in their faces. The first time I went home, my mom started crying. They were always worried about me. I was pre-diabetic — and I’ll be honest, if I kept that up, I’d probably be dead.”

Jonny’s weight loss procedure was just the beginning of his journey to getting healthy and fit. “Once you get to where you want to be, there are a lot of other issues you have to deal with. Part of my weight loss program was going to see a therapist. I didn’t realize I was eating for a certain reason. I was craving food because I was trying to come to terms with who I was. But after that emotional journey, you have the physical problem of having all this loose skin. Even though I lost a massive amount of weight, I didn’t have a ton of extra skin, but I still did go in for a body lift. That surgery was really hard to recover from, and I have a scar that goes all the way around my waist.”

MORE: The body lift procedure has a 94% Worth It rating on RealSelf. Read more reviews here.

While Jonny’s procedures undoubtedly brought incredible physical changes, perhaps even greater are the emotional benefits: “I now don’t have to worry about getting on a plane and not fitting into a seat. I don’t have to worry about going into stores and being too big for the clothes. I don’t have to walk down the street worrying that someone’s going to call me disgusting or look at me when I’m eating outside of the house. A lot of what overweight people go through on a daily basis is that constant shame.”

To say the procedures were life-changing would be an understatement, yet Jonny deserves equal credit for turning his life around. “The lap-band is something that can help you succeed, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. I didn’t use it to say, ‘Oh, this is going to make me skinny. I can still eat whatever I want!’ No, that’s not the case. I used it as: Once that thing is in me, my life is completely changing.”

“For some reason, people think it’s taking the easy way out,” he continues. “Yes, it is easier to have the surgery done. It’s a tool, it helps you. However, getting weight loss surgery, combined with seeing a therapist, can change someone’s life. If you can get help, why not get help? It’s just ignorance.”

Due to complications causing nausea, heartburn, and acid reflux, Jonny removed his lap-band in the fall of 2014. “When I had it taken out, I was very emotional,” he says. “I almost cried. Everyone had given up on me at one point or another when I was on my various diets, but the lap-band didn’t. Although it’s only a thing, it was very emotional to have it taken out. It’s been a part of you.”

While Jonny and his doctors considered replacing his lap-band with a gastric sleeve, the reality star says he felt confident he’d be able to stay healthy on his own. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t lose weight for my health. I did it because I was so tired of being looked at on the street and being called a pig,” he reveals. “That said, before my lap-band, I didn’t know how good it felt to be healthy. Now I love being healthy. The lap-band helped me understand that I don’t need to finish my plate to feel satisfied. It’s still a struggle, but I’m very in tune with my body. I know what I can eat and I love going to the gym.”

Jonny on Rich Kids

MORE: 8 Myths About Weight Loss Surgery

As a matter of fact, Jonny’s lost even more weight since removing the band: “I was 210 pounds when I got the band out. Now I’m 196. I’ve actually lost weight without having it in, which is great. It shows that I can do it.”

Jonny’s journey has inspired others to take steps towards a healthier life, including his castmate EJ Johnson. The 22-year-old star has lost an impressive 50 pounds since undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in August.

“I think that any one story can help,” Jonny says. “I know that I’m not the only person out there who’s succeeded, but I think a lot of people only hear the negative that goes around it. If I can be a positive voice and a success story, then that’s great. Weight loss surgery — if done for yourself and nobody else — will change your life. That’s what it did for me. It gave me a life that I wanted to live so badly.”

Photo credits: Courtesy of E! and Third Street Media Group