Denise Richards Opened Up About Her Surgery – And Explained Her Brave Decision To Have It Filmed

Back in the late 1990s Denise Richards was one of the fastest-rising stars in Hollywood, and in the years since then, she’s established herself on both the big and small screens. Recently, however, her doctors dropped a bombshell. And after undergoing an operation in fall 2019, a few months later Richards decided to open up about exactly what had happened and her progress since that shocking diagnosis.

Following a lengthy career in the film industry, Richards made an interesting switch back in 2018. At that point, the actress revealed that she was moving into the world of reality television. So from February 2019 she became the latest addition on the hit program The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

After joining the likes of Lisa Vanderpump and Lisa Rinna in front of the camera, Richards earned plenty of praise for her part in the show. And since making her debut, she’s featured in more than 30 episodes thus far. But at the back-end of 2019 the movie star shared some big news about her health.

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Indeed, Richards wrote up an Instagram post confirming that she underwent a medical procedure in October 2019. Then, as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills covered her ordeal in a later episode, she took to social media again in April 2020. On that occasion, though, the actress had an important message for her fans.

Born in February 1971, Richards spent her early years in Illinois alongside her parents and younger sibling. Her dad plied his trade as an engineer, while her mom was the proprietor of a coffee store. The family moved between two local communities over that period, before they made a significant switch.

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For you see, Richards and her clan packed their bags for California during her teenage years, making Oceanside their new home. Despite all of the upheaval, the future star didn’t allow that to get in the way of her education. She eventually earned her high school diploma at the end of the 1980s.

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From there, Richards’ life then took a very interesting turn. As her high school spell came to a close, she was named as the institution’s “best-looking” student in her final yearbook. So keeping that in mind, the California resident pursued a career in the modeling industry, which led to some exciting opportunities.

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Indeed, Richards was recruited to work on advertisements in different parts of the world, visiting places like Japan and France. She also spent some time in New York as well. However, the talented teenager decided to move away from modeling in 1990, opting to try her hand at something else.

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At that stage, Richards made her acting debut on the small screen. She was cast in an episode of Life Goes On, ahead of earning three more roles in 1991. That year, the aspiring actress appeared in programs like Doogie Howser, M.D. and Saved by the Bell, but her work didn’t end there.

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Richards continued to establish herself over the next couple of years, as she scored parts in shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Seinfeld. Following those performances, she was then given the chance to showcase her talents on the big screen for the first time in 1993. That year, the starlet featured in Loaded Weapon 1.

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Off the back of that, Richards returned to the small screen, where she remained for the next few years. While she did make a couple of other films in that time, her rise through the Hollywood ranks didn’t begin until the latter part of the decade. It all started in 1997, as we’re about to discover.

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In the spring of that year, Richards appeared in the drama Nowhere, ahead of her big breakout role a few months later. The actress popped up in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, taking on the character of Carmen Ibanez. Thanks to her performance, she earned a Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination for “Favorite Female Newcomer.”

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At that point, Richards’ next movie hit the big screen in 1998, as she starred in the thriller Wild Things. Then, some 12 months later, the Illinois native appeared in three more films, with one standing out in particular. Of course, we’re referring to The World Is Not Enough, the 19th entry in the James Bond franchise.

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By taking on the character of Dr. Christmas Jones, Richards became the franchise’s latest “Bond girl.” But prior to accepting the role, she hadn’t been aware of just how significant that title was. To explain more, the Hollywood star spoke about that period during an interview with USA Today in November 2012.

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Richards told the newspaper, “I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize how big Bond was until I was cast and it was all over the news. I’d never seen James Bond when I screen-tested and got the movie. Seriously. After I got the part, they were so sweet, they sent us all DVD players and a huge stack of the movies.”

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“I was so honored to be part of such an iconic franchise,” Richards admitted. However, while the film was a big hit at the box office, one aspect drew a lot of ridicule in the following months. It related to certain wardrobe choices, which the actress touched upon in her conversation with the paper.

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Richards continued, “There’s not too many scientists who run around in little shorts with a tattoo. So many people made fun of how I was dressed when the movie came out. That’s part of the appeal of Bond. These Bond girls are so outrageous and if I did really look like a scientist, the Bond fans would have been disappointed.”

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Following that busy spell in Richards’ career, she appeared in a number of other projects over the next few years. Yet it could be argued that her personal life overshadowed those roles in the early 2000s. Indeed, the movie star got engaged to Charlie Sheen the day after Christmas in 2001.

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Richards and Sheen went on to tie the knot in June 2002, before welcoming two little girls into the world. In the end, though, the famous couple broke up some four years later, with the former pushing for the split. After that tough period, she then decided to add another child to her family via adoption.

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That process was completed in June 2011, as Richards brought home her third baby girl. And after a period away from the limelight, her love life received a significant boost at the back end of 2017, when she started a relationship with Aaron Phypers. Such was their romantic bond, they became husband and wife just nine months later.

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But while Richards is in a good place personally and professionally, something else has been nagging her recently. During an interview with Australian publication The Daily Telegraph, the mom-of-three opened up about her physical appearance. As it turned out, she was getting accused of having work done on her face by online users.

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“It is funny to me [that] on social media people are saying I have had so much plastic surgery,” Richards told the newspaper in April 2019. “I have only done my boobs, and I am very open and honest about that. I have had the same nose if people look it up, and the lips.”

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Richards then added, “I don’t do Botox or fillers. And when people watch [The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills], my face moves, so much that it is distracting actually. I am with these beautiful women who look flawless all the time and I don’t do that stuff.” A few months on from that interview, though, the star did undergo a procedure.

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However, it wasn’t a cosmetic operation. As it turned out, Richards had been carrying a physical issue for about 12 months prior to her trip to the hospital in October 2019. She finally decided to address the problem once the discomfort became too much, but it was Phypers who broke the news on social media.

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“To the most incredible woman my soulmate,” Phypers wrote on Instagram in December 2019. “I am always in awe of your beauty, perseverance [and] dedication in all you do. These photos were taken a couple of months ago from an emergency procedure for a femoral hernia. [Richards had] not one, but four [hernias]!”

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Phypers concluded, “Six hours waiting close by. Love you baby, every day [you’re] getting stronger!” Alongside that heartfelt message, Richards’ husband included three images of her as well, showcasing her time at the hospital. Since being shared, the post has earned more than 3,400 likes on the social media website.

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Roughly 24 hours on from that announcement, Richards then followed up with a post of her own on Instagram. Much like Phypers, she shared the three photographs of herself at the medical facility, before elaborating on what had happened. Yet the film star’s words didn’t end there, as we’re about to find out.

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Richards wrote, “My hubby posted this and I need to actually thank him for taking such great care of me. This was a couple of months ago, and [it] turned out to be a good lesson for me to always listen to my body. Being a mom, wife, and having a career, sometimes it’s easier to just be strong and power through.”

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“I thought the pain and my other symptoms would just go away,” Richards continued. “They did not and got a lot worse. I’m so grateful to Dr. Shirin Towfigh and her fabulous team. I thought I had one femoral hernia, I actually had two femoral and two inguinal. I waited way too long and didn’t even tell my husband how bad I was feeling.”

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After that, Richards reiterated her earlier point about keeping an eye on her health, which brought the post to a close. It’s since earned over 36,000 likes on Instagram, while also generating in excess of 1,300 comments. Many of those messages were supportive, as some users recounted their own experiences with hernias.

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On that note, you might be wondering what the difference is between a femoral and inguinal hernia. The latter issue is said to be more prevalent in patients, affecting their groin area. As for the other problem, that occurs when a “bulge” becomes noticeable at the top of the thigh.

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Unsurprisingly, both ailments can be incredibly painful, as Richards will no doubt attest. But months after sharing her story with the world, it came to light again thanks to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The show captured her medical ordeal as it unfolded, with that particular episode airing in April 2020.

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Once the episode was released, Richards went back on Instagram to share a follow-up post. She revealed her reasons for allowing the program to film everything, ahead of making an intriguing observation. In addition to the message, the Hollywood star also included a photo of herself in a hospital room, rocking a pair of sunglasses.

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Richards wrote, “[To] those of you watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills last night…I can’t thank you enough for your lovely and supportive messages. Especially regarding my surgery. I felt very vulnerable having me filmed before and after, but felt it was important to show, given many of us can ignore symptoms.”

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“My amazing husband Aaron Phypers took such good care of me,” Richards recalled on the social media website. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Shirin Towfigh for being so thorough, and taking care of me and educating me that it’s not just a hernia. It was a big lesson for me.”

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From there, Richards went into a bit more detail regarding that latter point. According to her, certain individuals are prone to ignoring their own issues, especially if they have other people to look after at home. That tied into something that the mom-of-three mentioned in her earlier post too, which we’ll get into now.

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Richards explained, “Us women (and men), sometimes we feel the need to take care of everyone else, often brushing off our needs or symptoms to the side, thinking [that] they will go away and all will be okay. [This] was a real wake-up call for me, reminding me to listen to my body and [that] it’s okay to take care of myself.”

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“Because when the captain goes down, the ship goes down,” Richards added. “Thank you again for your kind, genuine messages.” Much like the other social media post, this one generated a big response as well. Indeed, it’s earned over 40,000 likes on Instagram and garnered more than 1,200 comments.

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Away from that, Richards’ career has shown no signs of slowing down in recent times. While she continues to appear on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she featured in over 100 episodes of another show throughout 2019 and 2020. We’re referring to The Bold and the Beautiful, a long-running soap opera.

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Furthermore, Richards has a number of additional irons in the fire too. For instance, she’s set to appear in four upcoming movies, which are currently in post-production. And if that wasn’t enough, the former Bond girl has another film on her slate as well, titled Amazon Lost. Unlike the previous features, though, that one hasn’t started filming yet.

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