Supermodel Linda Evangelista has debuted her first photoshoot since a cosmetic procedure left her “brutally disfigured” and “permanently deformed”.
The 56-year-old fashion icon, who said she had lived in seclusion for nearly five years after a botched surgery “destroyed” her life, broke her silence on Wednesday about the emotional and physical pain she had suffered in recent years.
Evangelista first revealed the troubling condition in September last year. On Wednesday, in an interview with People magazine, she said she was done hiding in shame, gracing the cover of this week’s issue.
“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” the model said through tears.
“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.”
Canadian-born Evangelista was once one of the most photographed people in the world, gracing more than 700 magazine covers and rising to peak fame during the 1990s.
She famously declared “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” in 1990.
Now she claims a popular “fat-freezing” procedure known as CoolSculpting – a noninvasive alternative to liposuction that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration – has scarred her for life.
Less than three months after her first treatments of the noninvasive alternative to liposuction, Evangelista says she noticed lumps growing in the areas she had tried to shrink – with bulges at her chin, thighs and back turning hard and numb.
The supermodel said she tried fixing it herself. She began dieting and exercising more often, become increasingly worried as nothing seemed to work.
In June 2016, Evangelista visited a doctor.
“I was bawling, and I said, ‘I haven’t eaten, I’m starving. What am I doing wrong?’,” she said.
She was diagnosed with paradoxical adipose hyperplasia – a rare side effect where the freezing process causes affected fatty tissue to grow and harden. PAH affects less than 1 per cent of patients.
Evangelista says she lost her identity during her trauma and is still recovering her confidence and sense of self.
“I don’t recognise myself physically, but I don’t recognise me as a person any longer either,” she told the magazine.
“I don’t look in the mirror … It doesn’t look like me”.
Evangelista is suing CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltig Aesthetic, for $US50 million ($70 million) in damages.
The supermodel alleges she’s been unable to work since her seven sessions of CoolSculpting from August 2015 to February 2016.
She claims Zeltiq Aesthetics offered to pay for liposuction to “make it right”, but only if she signed a confidentiality agreement.
Evangelista refused and paid for the first of two full-body liposuction surgeries herself in June 2016.
She says she was required to wear compression garments, a chin strap, and girdles for eight weeks to prevent PAH from returning. But she says it did anyway after her second liposuction in July 2017.
“It wasn’t even a little bit better,” Evangelista 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.”