Linda Evangelista says she’s “done hiding” and shared her first photos since a cosmetic procedure left her “brutally disfigured” nearly five years ago.
The Canadian-born supermodel spoke candidly for the first time about the emotional pain she’s had to endure after allegedly undergoing a popular body-contouring treatment that “did the opposite of what it promised.”
In September, the ‘90s fashion phenomenon filed a lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., seeking $50 million in damages, claiming that its CoolSculpting procedure rendered her unable to work.
Evangelista was once one of the world’s most influential and highest-paid supermodels who famously said that she wouldn’t “get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.”
But after undergoing seven sessions of the FDA-cleared “fat-freezing procedure,” from August 2015 to February 2016, she claims that she was left “permanently deformed.”
In an emotional interview with People, the 56-year-old former model said how the procedure has affected her life.
“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” she told People for this week’s cover story.
“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,” she added.
Evangelista first spoke up about the alleged botched procedure in September 2021.
“To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised,” she wrote in a post shared on Instagram.
According to Evangelista, within months after the treatment she started noticing that her chin, thighs and bra area — the same areas she was hoping to treat with CoolSculpting — had started hardening and growing.
She began dieting and exercising more, but nothing seemed to help. “I got to where I wasn’t eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind,” she said.
In June 2016 Evangelista decided to go see her doctor.
“I was bawling, and I said, ‘I haven’t eaten, I’m starving. What am I doing wrong?’” she asked him. After she was diagnosed with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), her doctor told her that “no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it.”
According to the CoolScuplting website, “rare side effects may happen in 1 to 10 out of 10,000 [its] treatments (between 0.01% to 0.1%). One such rare side effect is a visible enlargement in the treated area, which may develop 2 to 5 months after treatment and requires surgical intervention for correction.”
The company offered to pay for liposuction to “make it right.” But according to the lawsuit, on the eve of the procedure, she was informed that Zeltiq would only pay for it if she signed a confidentiality agreement.
She refused and ended up paying for two full-body liposuction surgeries, one in June 2016, the other in July 2017 — but that still didn’t work.
Her ordeal crushed her self-confidence. The longtime muse of renowned photographer Steven Meisel says she doesn’t even look in the mirror, anymore. “It doesn’t look like me.”
But now Evangelista hopes that making her story public can help others.
“I hope I can shed myself of some of the shame and help other people who are in the same situation as me,” she said.
“I’m not going to hide anymore,” she added.