Regis Philbin's Heart Surgery Successful

03/15/2007 at 11:25 AM EDT

Regis Philbin's Heart Surgery Successful
Regis Philbin
Jennifer Graylock/AP
Kelly Ripa had a message for her missing-in-action cohost, Regis Philbin, on Thursday's Live With Regis and Kelly: "Regis, we love you so much. Come back to us."

Ripa's remarks confirmed a report in the New York Post that Philbin, 75, underwent triple-bypass surgery on Wednesday morning.

The procedure was successful, said the paper, which also identified Philbin's surgeon as Dr. O. Wayne Isom, of New York's Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Isom was the same physician who operated on Philbin's pal, David Letterman, when he had a quintuple bypass in January 1998.

On Monday's Live, Philbin told viewers his hope had been just to have an angioplasty, a less-drastic procedure in which a balloon is inserted into the coronary arteries.

"You get in – bang, bang, bang – they blow it open and you leave the next day," he said, qualifying his self-diagnosis by adding, "There's some plaque in some arteries, and I've got to get it cleaned out."

Ripa volunteered to give him a sponge bath after the operation. Philbin is expected to be on medical leave from the show for the next five weeks.

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