What Is CoolSculpting, the Cosmetic Procedure That Left Linda Evangelista ‘Brutally Disfigured’?

Article Highlights:

  • What is CoolSculpting?
  • What are the risks of CoolSculpting?
  • Linda Evangelista says the damage prevented her from working so she’s suing the manufacturer for $50 million

Supermodel Linda Evangelista recently revealed that Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure left her “brutally disfigured,” leaving her unable to continue working as a model.

Evangelista’s procedure resulted in “paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) after the procedure. This condition results in swelling in the areas that were treated, she shared on Instagram. So what is CoolSculpting? And what is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH)?

What is CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical medical procedure to reduce fat. “CoolSculpting uses a procedure known as cryolipolysis,” according to Healthline. “It works by placing a roll of fat into two panels that cool the fat to a freezing temperature.” The procedure doesn’t require anesthesia, incisions, or medications. CoolSculpting is considered to have fewer complications than other fat-reducing procedures like liposuction.

Supermodel Linda Evangelista at Taj in 2005
Supermodel Linda Evangelista at Taj in 2005 | Rajanish Kakade/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The procedure targets excess fat in the thighs, lower back, belly, and sides. Additional areas include, “cellulite on the legs, buttocks, and arms. Some people also use it to reduce excess fat underneath the chin.” Medical News Today cited several studies that found the procedure is relatively effective. It reduced fat in the treated areas from 10.3% to up to 25.5%.

What are the side effects and risks of CoolSculpting?

Some CoolSculpting patients experience short-term side effects. This includes a tugging feeling at the treated area. But also some sensations of pain or aching at the treatment area within a few weeks after having the procedure. Some patients report temporary redness, swelling, or bruising in the area too.

While most side effects dissipate weeks after the procedure, CoolSculpting is not without risk or complication. A 2014 study found that less than 1% of CoolSculpting patients can experience paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). PAH is what Evangelista cited that she has now. Healthline reports that PAH is the increase of fat cells in treated body parts. But that PAH can be treated using liposuction.

Who is Linda Evangelista suing for damages?

The news came as a shock to many who recalled when Evangelista dominated the runway. She was amongst the group of elite supermodels who starred in George Michael’s iconic videos for “Freedom” and “Too Funky.” While other models like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell continue to work, Evangelista has not been seen in years. “PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing. In the process, I have become a recluse,” she wrote.

She also shared that physicians did not make her aware of the risks with the procedure. CNN reports that Evangelista filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York federal court against CoolSculpting manufacturer Zeltiq “for negligence, misleading advertising and alleging that the company failed to warn customers of the possible side effects.”

Evangelista shared that she underwent corrective surgery, which was unsuccessful. “With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my 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.”