Model Linda Evangelista says she was "brutally disfigured" by botched procedure

Los Angeles, California - Linda Evangelista, whose face graced the covers of countless fashion magazines in the 1990s, says that she had taken "a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years."

Linda Evangelista was one of the world's biggest supermodels in the 1990s (file photo).
Linda Evangelista was one of the world's biggest supermodels in the 1990s (file photo).  © IMAGO / Future Image

The supermodel says she’s a victim of a cosmetic procedure gone wrong, and she has filed a lawsuit.

"To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving," the 56-year-old wrote on Instagram, "the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised. It increased, not decreased, my 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,'" she said.

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This from one of the world’s original supermodels who said in 1990, when she was experiencing overwhelming success, that she didn’t wake up "for less than 10,000 dollars a day."

CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure from Allergan Aesthetics, approved by the FDA to reduce visible bulges under the chin and jaw and on the thighs, abdomen, flanks, and back.

A representative for AbbVie, which acquired Allergan in 2020, did not respond Thursday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for comment on Evangelista’s statement.

"The lowest depths of self-loathing"

Linda Evangelista at the Harper's Bazaar Icons Celebration in 2014.
Linda Evangelista at the Harper's Bazaar Icons Celebration in 2014.  © IMAGO / Future Image

Evangelista said she has become a "recluse" since the procedure due to a rare side effect she maintains she was not informed about. In the Instagram message, she gives no further details about the filing.

She explained that after undergoing the fat-freezing procedure, she developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), described in a 2014 National Institutes of Health publication as "a rare, previously unreported side effect of cryolipolysis with an incidence of 0.0051 per cent." It causes areas of the body to swell and become bigger, rather than smaller.

"PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood," Evangelista wrote, "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."

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Paparazzi photos published in recent years – illustrating those "unrecognizable" stories the model mentioned – have shown Evangelista with a dramatically different jawline. Her agency, DNA Models Management, said Thursday that it does not comment on behalf of its clients concerning pending litigation.

"With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story," Evangelista wrote in her post. "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."

Supportive comments from famous friends were abundant on Instagram.

Fellow 90s modelling icon Cindy Crawford wrote in the comments, "Linda – your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic! Bravo!"

Supermodel Naomi Campbell also chimed in, writing, "I applaud you for your Courage and strength to Share your experience and not be held hostage by it anymore .. You know I love you."

Cover photo: IMAGO / Future Image

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