Linda Evangelista opens up about disfiguration from fat-freezing procedure: 'I thought I was losing my mind'

·3 min read

Five months after Linda Evangelista revealed on Instagram that she had been "permanently deformed" from a CoolSculpting procedure, the former supermodel is sharing more of her story, telling People magazine that she is done hiding.

"I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know," the 56-year-old told the publication. "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."

While Evangelista had notably taken years away from the spotlight, it wasn't until Sept. 2021 that she went public with her reasoning for doing so. She shared her story on Instagram with the hashtag #TheTruth where she wrote that she had been "brutally disfigured by Zeltiq's CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised." Now, she's revealing the details of what happened.

Evangelista told People that she had undergone seven sessions of CoolSculpting between August 2015 and Feb. 2016 and noticed within months that the procedure meant to get rid of fat was instead expanding and hardening those areas instead.

"I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong," she said, pointing to dieting and overexercising. "I got to where I wasn't eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind."

In June 2016, she took her concerns to a doctor. "I dropped my robe for him," she recalled. "I was bawling, and I said, 'I haven't eaten, I'm starving. What am I doing wrong?'"

The doctor diagnosed her with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) — a rare condition that explained the adverse effect of the CoolSculpting. "I was like, 'What the hell is that?'" Evangelista explained. "And he told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it."

Evangelista told People that she was set to undergo corrective liposuction procedures covered by Zeltiq, but ultimately refused to sign a confidentiality agreement with the company. Instead, she paid for two full-body liposuction surgeries herself in June 2016 and July 2017. While it was brought to her attention that the PAH may come back, she was shocked when it did following the second surgery.

"It wasn't even a little bit better," she said. "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."

The results of the PAH have also impacted Evangelista's posture. "I don't recognize myself physically, but I don't recognize me as a person any longer either," she said. "I don't look in the mirror. It doesn't look like me."

Still, after years of hiding, she explained that she's sharing the details of what's happened to her in hopes of helping others.

"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. "I'm not going to hide anymore."

Evangelista's story might also shed light on the pressures that aging women face in Hollywood.

"Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]?" she questioned. "I always knew I would age. And I know that there are things a body goes through. But I just didn't think I would look like this."

Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.