The 76-year-old fashion designer is on the mend after last week's operation

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
April 10, 2019 04:37 PM
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Betsey Johnson‘s open-heart surgery was a success.

The 76-year-old designer has been recuperating since last week’s operation, according to the New York Post. “Betsey had a successful surgery and is recovering wonderfully,” a rep for the designer told the news outlet.

Johnson previously told Women’s Wear Daily that she decided to go public about the procedure after Mick Jagger made a similar announcement. Having been honest about being a breast cancer survivor, Johnson also felt it was important to talk openly about heart disease.

Johnson, who in the past has modeled for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection runway show — which aims to raise awareness of heart disease in women — said she plans to devote a chapter to health in her upcoming book.

“To me, open heart surgery means they have to get the saw out. They can’t go through veins and arteries. For this, they have to cut me open just like my mom and dad had to have done them,” she told WWD. “They said my aorta is the size of a 300-pound guy, but the walls are very thin. This little one-inch accordion gizmo is being thrown in and they will remove my aorta. They say it really works and my doctor has done a million of these procedures.”

RELATED VIDEO: Betsey Johnson Gives PEOPLE a Tour of Her Over-The-Top Backyard

For the past three years Johnson has been living in a pink trailer in Malibu. She had three “baby seizures — you know, the fall down, go to the hospital, go home, everything’s fine,” which eventually led her to seek help at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to WWD.

And while Johnson’s mother died from a slightly different heart procedure 45 years ago, the designer wasn’t worried about her fate. “That was so long ago and there was a glitch in the testing. They have done so much testing on me….You have to be one of the lucky ones to get one of these insanely precise robots to assist your doctor.”

Prior to surgery Johnson said, “I’ve had a great lucky life just filled with the best — family, friends, work, everything.”

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