Supermodel Linda Evangelista took to Instagram Wednesday evening to explain her disappearance from the public eye. After undergoing a CoolSculpting fat-reduction procedure — a procedure involving “freezing” fat on the body — she developed complications that left her, in her words, “permanently deformed even after two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries.”
In a post captioned with the hashtags, “#TheTruth” and “#MyStory,” Evangelista began, “Today I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years.”
“To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised,” she further explained. Evangelista alleges that the procedure allegedly “increased, not decreased” her fat cells, leading her to develop “Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia or PAH.”
Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is considered a rare complication of cryolipolysis, a non-invasive treatment that has been developed to selectively freeze fat cells to help eliminate them, Dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD explained to GRAZIA. “[PAH] refers to the overgrowth of fatty tissue that can appear as a well-demarcated mass which is often considered a delayed complication as it may not appear for months after the procedure, with some reports suggesting 8-24 weeks after the initial procedure.” While it is rare, it is possible that it is underreported. “The exact mechanism isn’t fully known, and no single risk factor has been identified, though it is thought to be more common among male patients,” says Dr. Garshick.
“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing,” Evangelista continued, adding that “In the process, I have become a recluse.”
Dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell warned that PAH isn’t an easy problem to fix, and they’re still trying to figure out how. “No reports of resolution have been documented, so treatment requires liposuction to remove the excess fat that forms after the procedure.”
Evangelista ended the post sharing her intention to take legal action against Zeltiq Aesthetics, the parent company of CoolSculpting. “With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story. I am so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”
So should we avoid CoolSculpting? Do your research first. “Like all cosmetic procedures, there are risks,” cautions Dr. Campbell. “No procedure is without risk, so this should be considered before undergoing any cosmetic treatment including botox, liposuction, coolsculpting, etc.”