FORMER Towie star James Argent has had a life-saving gastric operation to help him lose 12 stone.
The 33-year-old shocked fans when he ballooned to nearly 27 stone during lockdown – admitting he swapped a drink and drug addiction for junk food when Covid closed gyms and swimming pools.
Now he hopes to slim down to 16 stone after having half his stomach removed last week during a gruelling sleeve gastrectomy op by Transform at a top clinic in Birmingham.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun just TWO DAYS after his £10k op – which will reduce the amount of food he can eat – Arg admits he was nearly TOO FAT for the procedure. And that he feared he may never wake up.
“This is the biggest operation I’ve ever had in my life – so I was scared,” Arg admits. “I did say to the surgeon: ‘Is there a chance I might not wake up?’
“He said there was a small chance.”
Arg says it was touch and go whether the surgery would go ahead as he struggled to stick to a 1,000 calories a day pre-op diet and his BMI hit almost 50.
“I was supposed to stick to 1,000 calories a day for three weeks and my BMI had to be below 50 but I was 49.7 and 26st 11lbs.
“I did struggle, there were a few times I found it too hard and I wasn’t able to stick to it.
“I was almost too big to have the operation, which is a scary thought.”
But Arg did manage to keep his BMI down and the hour and a half op was successful.
“I’ve already got a bit of a glow back in my face so I’m happy with that,” he adds. “And I feel like I’m already losing weight, which is good.”
For now, Arg must protect the five scars across his belly.
“It’s going to take about six weeks to heal completely. I can’t swim or box until then.”
Arg is now unable to eat solid food for SIX WEEKS swapping his favourite pizza and chocolate for liquid ‘meals’ like shakes and juices.
He must inject himself daily into his stomach and says even water and paracetamol are a struggle to keep down since the surgery on Thursday which left him vomiting up bouts of blood.
“It is quite scary when you’re just randomly being sick and you’re seeing lots of blood come up,” Arg admits.
Arg admits he’s in such discomfort now he can’t stop burping up gas and cannot fart for fear of overstraining.
“Just dealing with trapped wind is really uncomfortable.
“They encouraged me to keep burping to get wind out – but you can’t even fart.”
Arg must now consume just 1000 calories a day but admits junk food ads are tempting – so would he consider blitzing his favourite chocolate bars in a blender?
Arg told The Sun in January how he deleted delivery apps after constantly ordering takeaways, sweets, fizzy drinks, chocolate and pizza at the touch of a button.
“I could probably go and get a chocolate bar at night, whisk it up until it’s liquid and then have it but what is the point? I’m not going to go through what I’ve been through and do something like that.
Arg now hopes it’ll take a maximum of 18 months to shed almost 12 stone with the gastric sleeve and reach his target weight of 16 stone.
The TV star must limit his exercise to walking only for the next few weeks but has ambitions to train with his best pal Mark Wright – and says Joey Essex is booking them a holiday once he’s slimmed down.
“Mark has been there for me. He’s excited for me, after the healing process, to get involved in his training,” he says.
“I don’t want to be a ‘skinny fat person’.
“I want to be quite toned and look good so Mark is going to help me do that.
“I’ve got so many beautiful Italian suits I just can’t wait to put on – I can barely get my arms in right now but I’m looking forward to getting back into some.
“I’ve got some nice Ray Winstone Sexy Beast – style Speedos too and I’m excited to get those on.
“I certainly won’t be posing naked but you might see me on a beach in a very tight pair of short shorts. Definitely.”
Arg has already overcome drink and drug battles and twice been to a Thai rehab centre for addiction.
Last year, he admitted to The Sun he was a cocaine addict after taking the drug for seven years and suffering two near-fatal overdoses, with ex Gemma Collins calling an ambulance over fears he would die.
Arg was rushed to hospital and put on a drip.
But the TV star and singer wants all that drama to be a thing of the past.
“When I look back at myself in recent TV interviews, I just didn’t recognize that person. I looked so depressed.
“I’ve always been a bubbly, fun character, the thing that’s made me angry is I’ve let myself get so low.
“I feel this surgery is a fresh start. I’ve had drug addiction, an eating disorder – I’ve been through a lot. I just want to come through.
“I have big dreams to swim the English Channel and eventually have a boxing match – some Tyson Fury-style one.
“Tyson’s a big hero of mine. He suffered with depression, was doing drink and drugs, was morbidly obese. He ended up losing weight and became world champion – he looks amazing and he’s achieved great things.”
On reaching his target weight Arg admits he might treat himself – to a hoover!
“If I’m going to celebrate or treat myself, it’ll probably be doing something nice for my house. I’m going to take pride in it.
“I’ve got a beautiful family home, but I’m the only one living in it.
“So whether it’s an ex-girlfriend or someone new – I do want to settle down, start a family, have kids – these are all achievable if I continue the way I’m going.
Arg has had high profile romances with former Towie stars Gemma Collins and Lydia Bright but today beams as he confesses he and ‘first love’ Lydia, 30, have become close again during this rock bottom time.
The pair had an on/off eight-year romance over many years but his infidelities and hard partying eventually tore them apart.
However the former couple are still a solid unit according to Arg.
“Me and Lydia [Bright] are extremely close again, we have kept that low key and behind closed doors,” Arg admits.
“Lydia’s obviously had a beautiful baby and she’s a single mother now.
“Me and Lydia were together years before Towie existed or before either of us were in the public eye.
“She’s a real friend and her and her mum have been an incredible support to me. I’m very fond of Lydia. I’m lucky to have her in my life and for us to be such close friends, but my whole weight loss journey – it isn’t to try and win anyone back and it isn’t for any particular woman. I am doing this genuinely for myself.
Now he says he’s concentrating on getting back to his best before he considers romance.
“I’m completely single at the moment. I want to put my health first – that’s number one. The most important thing is to remain clean and sober.
“I’ve been clean and sober for a year and three months now. I feel I’m ready to tackle my weight.
“I suppose women come into that. I’ll certainly be a lot more confident meeting new women or having fun and maybe some of the women that might not have been so achievable before, they might be more achievable! I’ve had so much support.
“Joey Essex sent me a really long emotional message saying he’s proud of me and he can’t wait to go on holiday with me again once I’ve got my weight off. He said he’ll come to one of my gigs.
“This operation is going to help me physically get my life back but it’s not going to cure me mentally,” he adds.
“I’m going to get regular counselling and I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
‘Dramatically positive impact’
Mr Martin Richardson, Bariatric Surgeon at Transform Hospital Group, said: “Obesity and associated health conditions currently have a huge impact on society, with most diets culminating in weight regain.
"Bariatric surgery has a dramatically positive impact in well selected, motivated individuals where benefits significantly outweigh relatively small risks.
“James underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (keyhole gastric sleeve surgery), currently the most popular weight loss operation worldwide.
"This involves removing about 70 per cent of the outer stomach, as well as the part which produces ghrelin (an appetite hormone), leaving a narrow gastric tube that restricts portion size.
"We agreed this was probably the most suitable procedure for his lifestyle.
"James can reasonably expect to lose well over half of his excess weight, providing he makes associated healthy behavioural changes.”
Source: Read Full Article