Jessica Simpson writes a lot about struggling with her body image in her new memoir, Open Book, and she reveals for the first time that she had two tummy tuck procedures after her first two pregnancies.
Simpson — who told the world she got her body back after babies by doing Weight Watchers and chasing her kids around — planned to do one, a partial tummy tuck, as a 35th birthday present to herself in 2015 after having her first two children back-to-back. (Maxwell was born in 2012 followed by Ace in 2013.)
“The surgery wasn’t for weight loss,” Simpson, 39, insisted. “I weighed 107 pounds when I planned the surgery. I wanted to get rid of the stretch marks and loose skin” caused by her pregnancies. She said she was “so ashamed of my body at this point that I wouldn’t let” husband Eric Johnson “see me without a white T-shirt on. I had sex with it on. and even showered with it on. I couldn’t bear to look at myself.”
The Price of Beauty star wrote to other moms, “I need to say this: If you have stretch marks from pregnancy, I hope you can be proud that your body created life. I was not strong enough. It touched all my insecurities, and I couldn’t handle it.”
So Simpson scheduled the procedure for two weeks after a birthday bash she planned — for 30 friends and family members, adults-only — to St. Bart’s in July 2015. Of that trip, Simpson — who reveals her battle with alcoholism in the book — said “I was not sober for a minute,” gifting her friends matching glitter cups to her own, which she drank booze out of every day, sometimes starting at 7 a.m. on a typical day.
While in the Caribbean, she got a phone call from her doctor who was alarmed by her liver levels ahead of her planned surgery. While her plastic surgeon cleared her for the procedure, this doctor wouldn’t. “You could die,” he told her. “You need to stop everything for three months before you have this surgery. Everything.”
She knew then, “I was killing myself with the drinking and the pills,” including diet pills, which she started taking at 17 after being body-shamed by a music exec, as well as an unnamed stimulant and Ambien. However, she didn’t immediately stop, only cut back — and after the trip ended.
Simpson didn’t change her surgery date, despite warnings from her mom, Tina Simpson, and husband Johnson. She underwent the procedure and it went off without a hitch. However, she wasn’t happy with the results.
“I still had loose skin that hung over my pants,” she wrote. With how “cruel” people had been in the past — like when she was only 120 pounds and fat-shamed for her size 4 “mom jeans.” She said she wasn’t “ready to face that laugh-and-point cruelty again” so she scheduled a full tummy tuck for two months later.
The second procedure, which she gave up drinking for, was more involved, she recounted. Again, she was urged not to do it by her mom and Johnson, who puked the day of the procedure because he was so scared for his wife. She went through with it anyway — and it was rough, taking two hours longer than planned.
Simpson wrote about being sent to a luxury hotel near the plastic surgeon’s office to recover — while she still had in “two drains with pouches to collect the blood.” And things quickly turned ugly. “I got an infection — colitis — and was vomiting so much I thought I was going to bust my sutures.”
She was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital in L.A., where she spent nine days recovering. She avoided having a blood transfusion, which was a worry.
“I recovered, and yes, my stomach looked great,” she wrote. “I felt like myself again. But I can tell you that plastic surgery does not cure what’s inside. Really, it’s about how you feel emotionally, and I was still just as hard on myself once those stitches were out.”
Simpson has said that therapy led her to face her issues with body image — as well as addiction. She stopped drinking after hitting rock bottom in 2017. In 2019, Simpson welcomed her third child, Birdie. Along the way, she shared with her followers that she gained — and then lost —100 pounds during that pregnancy.
Simpson said on the Today show Tuesday she wrote her book to let her fans know that good can follow bad. "I wanted to show people the obstacles that I had to get through and the tools that I have now to go back and face them," she said. "I know what to do with it all now, and I'm proud of it."
Open Book is now out. Simpson narrates the audiobook, which includes new music inspired by her memoir. Buy now on Amazon.
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