Social Navigation

Patrick McMullan is recovering from emergency back surgery


Beloved society photographer Patrick McMullan is on the mend again after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer earlier this year.

McMullan is now in rehab after undergoing emergency back surgery last week to remove a herniated disc, he told Page Six on Tuesday.

“It was completely sudden. I started in a lot of pain. The doctor told me to go for an MRI…I didn’t even have a phone charger with me, when I woke up, I had to ask the nurse to charge my phone,” he told us.

McMullan is now recovering on the Upper East Side. “My prognosis is good, but my legs are all numb and I’m still in a lot of pain,” he said.

Patrick McMullan
McMullan underwent cancer surgery in January.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Patrick McMullan
McMullan underwent cancer surgery in January.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image


“I’ve been looking forward to three memorials of great New Yorkers: Bobby Zarem, Mort Janklow and Doug McCormick — all this week, so I can’t go,” he said.

McMullan told us he’s seen his height drop from 5ft 10in to around 5ft 8in and he’s worried he won’t be able to take pictures anymore.

“It’s a bit difficult to continue. The world feels like they’re ganging up and telling me to stop shooting, but I hate that idea,” he said.

Patrick McMullan and Andy Warhol
McMullan with Andy Warhol in 1985.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

Maybe he’ll go back to the 70s when, “all I ever used was a pocket camera that I got from Andy Warhol because he said, ‘You can’t walking around with that big camera. They will attack you! Maybe I’ll come back to that kind of camera,” he thought.

Here’s to a speedy recovery and back behind the lens once again!

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.