LOS ANGELES • Maybe the operation lifted a big weight off his mind because former top bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger was "sitting up and signing autographs" less than 48 hours after a procedure last Thursday to replace a pulmonic valve in the heart.
According to a nurse, the Terminator star, 70, was even joking that "doctors won't let him sneak outside to smoke one of his cigars".
"But he's in great spirits and I've never seen anyone make a comeback quite so quickly," the Daily Star quoted the nurse at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles as saying.
Actor Sylvester Stallone was not surprised that his long-time pal had bounced back so quickly. "He's doing great and he's a brave man," said Stallone, who hopes to visit the actor "for as long as the hospital will let me".
They were co-stars in the mercenary-based movie franchise The Expendables (2010 to present)
Schwarzenegger, who was California state governor from 2003 to 2011, can also expect visits from his five children and former wife Maria Shriver.
Their 25-year marriage collapsed - she has filed for divorce - after he had an affair with a housekeeper, leading to the birth of a son whom he secretly supported for more than 14 years.
Last Thursday, news had swirled initially that Schwarzenegger had undergone an emergency open-heart surgery, reported Reuters.
But his spokesman Daniel Ketchell later clarified that the actor had checked into the hospital to replace a pulmonic valve that was originally changed in 1997 due to a congenital heart defect.
"That 1997 replacement valve was never meant to be permanent and has outlived its life expectancy, so he chose to replace it through a less-invasive catheter valve replacement," Mr Ketchell said.
He added that an open-heart surgery team was on standby as part of standard procedure.
"His first words were actually, 'I'm back!', so he is in good spirits," said Mr Ketchell.
Schwarzenegger's character famously says, "I'll be back", in his breakthrough role in the 1984 movie The Terminator.
While he has a heart condition, he is also no stranger to other healing processes.
A motorcycle crash grounded him with broken ribs in 2001. He had a hip replaced and rotator cuff surgery in 2003. He broke his right femur in a skiing accident in 2006.
Schwarzenegger, who is set to return to the Terminator franchise for the sixth film that is scheduled for a release next year, also got a recovery booster shot from another Hollywood star.
Jamie Lee Curtis, his co-star in the 1994 action film True Lies, posted a photo of them tangoing on the set.
"Healing love and laughter to my favourite dance partner," she wrote under the photo.