Linda Evangelista says she was ‘brutally disfigured’ by cosmetic procedure, will sue company

Entertainment

The Canadian supermodel will sue Zeltiq Aesthetics, the parent company behind the CoolSculpting procedure that she says left her permanently deformed.

Linda Evangelista is seen at a show during 1996 New York Fashion Week. The model wrote on Tuesday that she is suffering after undergoing a fat-reduction procedure five years ago.(Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images)

Linda Evangelista, the Canadian supermodel who shot to fame in the 1990s, wrote on social media that a CoolSculpting cosmetic procedure has left her "brutally disfigured" and a "recluse," and she has filed a lawsuit with the parent company.

In a post shared to Instagram on Tuesday, the 56-year-old model wrote that she underwent the fat-reduction procedure five years ago and said that it has had adverse effects on her body.

"It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries," she wrote. "I have been left, as the media described, 'unrecognizable.'"

Evangelista said that she has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of CoolSculpting, Zeltiq Aesthetics. She said the physical side effects of the procedure have led to depression and self-loathing.

Allergan, of which Zeltiq Aesthetics is a subsidiary, did not immediately respond to a CBC News request for comment.

What is CoolSculpting?

According to its website, CoolSculpting is a non-invasive procedure meant to freeze the body's fat cells. The body then naturally burns these dead cells, removing "stubborn" fat in a process called cryolipolysis.

Zeltiq Aesthetic's CoolSculpting is approved by Health Canada and by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

What is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia?

In her post, Evangelista said that she developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), an uncommon side-effect of cryolipolysis coined in 2014 by a group of researchers in California and Massachusetts.

PAH occurs when the fat tissue around the area treated by cryolipolysis thickens, causing the opposite of the desired effect.

CoolSculpting's website lists "paradoxical hyperplasia" as a potential rare side-effect.

What does Evangelista's lawsuit entail?

Evangelista's lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics says that her "quality of life, her career, and her body … were all ruined in 2016 after she was permanently disfigured as a result of using ZELTIQ's CoolSculpting system as well as the multiple procedures and surgeries required to try to correct those physical injuries as directed by ZELTIQ."

The lawsuit alleges that Zeltiq Aesthetics failed to inform Evangelista of rare side-effects, including PAH.

The document says that Evangelista seeks financial compensation for damages caused by the procedure, including emotional distress, personal injury and loss of income "as the result of her being rendered unemployable" as a model.

"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," Evangelista wrote in her Instagram post.

Celebrities reach out in support

A number of celebrities expressed public support for Evangelista in the comment section of her Instagram post.

"You are loved [heart emoji]," wrote supermodel Christy Turlington.

"Love that you're reclaiming your story. This strength and bravery supersedes any superficial outward appearance. An icon is an icon is an icon. Always [heart emoji]," wrote actor January Jones.

Dan Levy, creator and star of commented with heart emojis. Actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow did the same.

"Linda — your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic! Bravo!" wrote supermodel Cindy Crawford.

Fashion designer Brandon Maxwell commented with a brief paragraph of support, saying: "I'm so sorry you have had to endure something so painful."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenna Benchetrit is a senior writer for CBC News entertainment and education. She can be reached at jenna.benchetrit@cbc.ca.

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