Linda Evangelista was one of the most famous and in-demand supermodels of the 1990s, recognized the world over for years of work that included countless campaigns, catwalks, Vogue covers and an iconic George Michael music video alongside Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington. But unlike her peers, not much has been seen of Evangelista in recent years and tonight she revealed the reason she disappeared from the public eye.
Evangelista, 56, came forward via an emotional Instagram post to claim that a routine and popular fat-reduction procedure called CoolSculpting made her permanently deformed, emotionally devasted, and ultimately a recluse. “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,” Evangelista posted this evening to her 906,000 followers.
She claimed that instead of reducing fat, the procedure increased fat cells and “left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries. I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable.’” In 2017, The Daily Mail ran with such a headline after she was spotted by paparazzi heading to the airport in New York.
Evangelista went on to say that she developed what is called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, commonly referred to as PAH and said to be a side effect of the fat-freezing procedure. According to Healthline, PAH is “a very rare but serious side effect” that occurs most often in male patients. “This means the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger rather than smaller. It’s not fully understood why this occurs. While it’s a cosmetic rather than physically dangerous side effect, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia doesn’t disappear on its own,” the site says.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, CoolSculpting is the brand name for cryolipolysis, a non-surgical procedure that uses cold temperature to reduce fat deposits in certain areas of the body. It is also called body contouring and has grown in popularity in medical spas in recent years. Evangelista used the brand name and mentioned Zeltiq, a subsidiary of Allergan that markets and licenses devices used for cryolipolysis procedures.
Her post mentioned a lawsuit and an intention of “moving forward to rid myself of my shame” by going public with the story. “I’m so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.” It’s unclear if the suit has already been filed.
Evangelista immediately found support on social media from everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow and stylist Karla Welch to designers Brandon Maxwell and Jeremy Scott. The latter commented, “You are and always will be a supermodel, now adding super role model of courage to your glorious resume. I love you.” Posted Welch: “You are still the greatest.”
Maxwell posted, “I have always recognized you as someone who was physically beautiful, yes, but more importantly you really shone bright from within. It has been your sense of humor, your innate joy, and your ability to present so effortlessly the best in life that I’ve always been the most attracted to. In your darkest moments may you never forget the light you have sparked in so many, and continue to.”
Fellow model Karen Elson also commented: “Sweet Linda. I love you dearly, you are so brave and wonderful.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Allergan for comment on the story.