Supermodel Linda Evangelista is ready to tell the world what happened to her. The 56-year-old Canadian-born model was once one of the most famous faces in the world, but she disappeared from the public eye a little more than six years ago after undergoing a routine cosmetic procedure which she says left her “permanently disformed.” Now she’s posing for her first photoshoot since the incident.
Evangelista first reported on what happened in November 2021. The supermodel said she signed up for the fat-reducing procedure CoolSculpting and underwent seven sessions of the procedure to reduce fat cells between August 2015 and February 2016. But then the 56-year-old experienced a rare side effect of the procedure.
The mom of one spoke with People as part of a cover story this month. She explained how at the time she “stopped eating” and thought she was losing her mind when bulges formed on her chin, thighs, and bust. Evangelista says she doesn’t love seeing old acquaintences because of how much her appearance has changed since her modeling days.
“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” the former model told People. “I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame. I just couldn’t live in this pain any longer. I’m willing to finally speak.”
According to The Daily Mail, the Vogue cover star had developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, a rare, previously unreported adverse effect of cryolipolysis. The condition has been reported in 0.0051% of the 1.5 million CoolSculpting procedures performed worldwide.
The condition essentially has the opposite of the intended effect, causing treated areas to grow in fat rather than decrease. That may leave a “painless, visibly enlarged, firm, well-demarcated mass” under treated skin.
Evangelista recalled visiting her doctor in 2016. “I dropped my robe for him,” she said. “I was bawling, and I said, ‘I haven’t eaten, I’m starving. What am I doing wrong?’” The medical professional confirmed that she had PAH and explained how the condition couldn’t be fixed by diet or exercise. This led to the model filing a lawsuit against CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, for $50 million in damages. Evangelista claims the procedures have made her unable to work.
The model alleges that Zeltiq offered to pay for liposuction procedures to correct the issue but that she wound up paying for them herself. Evangelista said she had full body liposuction In June 2016 and again in July 2017.
The model said the bulges caused her extreme pain. “If I walk without a girdle in a dress, I will have chafing to the point of almost bleeding. Because it’s not like soft fat rubbing, it’s like hard fat rubbing. [I can’t] put my arms flat along my side,” Evangelista explained. “I don’t think designers are going to want to dress me with that’ sticking out of my body.”
The model also said her identity as “Linda Evangelista, supermodel” feels “sort of gone” and that she doesn’t recognize herself anymore.
“Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]? I always knew I would age. And I know that there are things a body goes through. But I just didn’t think I would look like this,” she mused. “I don’t recognize myself physically, but I don’t recognize me as a person any longer either.”
Evangelista hopes that sharing her story will help others with similar situations.
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