Linda Evangelista Is ‘Done Hiding in Shame’ After Disfiguring Cosmetic Procedure

Model Linda Evangelista opened up about the cosmetic procedure that left her disfigured and sent her into hiding for nearly five years.

Evangelista revealed Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure left her “brutally disfigured.” As a result, she lived in seclusion and was unable to continue to work as a model. She also shared her attorney’s statement on Instagram and planned to sue the company behind the procedure.

“The truth of my horrific ordeal will be told through the legal system and I offer my sympathy to anyone suffering, as I do, from PAH’s painful, hardened masses which protrude from the skin wherever CoolSculpting was performed,” she wrote.

Linda Evangelista went into hiding after CoolSculpting left her disfigured

Evangelista recently revealed more about the psychological impact the botched procedure had on her. “I don’t recognize myself physically, but I don’t recognize me as a person any longer either. She” —and she means Linda Evangelista, supermodel— “is sort of gone,” she told People. Adding, “I don’t look in the mirror. It doesn’t look like me.”

Steven Meisel and Linda Evangelista attended a Fashion Party during Paris Fashion Week in the 1990s
Steven Meisel and Linda Evangelista | Foc Kan/WireImage

CoolSculpting is designed to be a non-invasive alternative to liposuction. But instead of reducing areas on her body, it only created larger lumps and bumps, which now require additional surgery and treatment. Since having the treatments, which began in 2015, Evangelista was left feeling horrified and in hiding.

“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” she admitted “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.” 

A doctor diagnosed her with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia

About three months after having the treatments, Evangelista noticed expanding bumps and bulges on her body that were supposed to be shrinking. “I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong,” she said, thinking that extreme dieting and exercising would correct the problem. But added, “I got to where I wasn’t eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind.”

Evangelista was diagnosed with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) during an appointment with 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?'”

That’s when he diagnosed her with PAH. “I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ And he told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it.”

The CoolSculpting procedure that caused Evangelista’s PAH resulted in years of corrective liposuction treatments. Evangelista also had to wear compression garments on the surgical areas for eight weeks after the surgery. “It wasn’t even a little bit better,” she recalled. “The bulges are protrusions. And they’re hard. 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.”

Linda Evangelista hopes to help others by going public

Evangelista went public because CoolSculpting offered to pay for corrective liposuction. But “on the eve” of her surgery, Zeltiq said the company would only cover the costs if Evangelista signed a confidentiality agreement. She refused and paid out of pocket for both full-body liposuction surgeries.

Coolsculpting provided a statement to People about Evangelista’s case. The procedure “has been well studied with more than 100 scientific publications and more than 11 million treatments performed worldwide.” The company added that known rare side effects like PAH “continue to be well-documented in the CoolSculpting information for patients and health care providers.” 

For now, Evangelista hopes she can begin to regain her life after the CoolSculpting nightmare. “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. “That’s my goal.”

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