Model Linda Evangelista reveals the damage she’s endured from failed cosmetic procedure

Three women laugh together while seated at an event.
Linda Evangelista, left, laughs with fellow supermodels Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington at an event in 1989.
(Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

At the height of her career, supermodel Linda Evangelista graced runways and the covers of Vogue and other magazines. Now she’s on a very different cover, talking about how she chose to undergo a cosmetic procedure that she says turned her into a recluse and left her spirit “broken.”

“I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” the 56-year-old recently told People. “I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame.”

Evangelista, who thinks she might be the first model to admit using Botox, said she was lured by CoolSculpting ads that positioned the fat-freezing procedure as just another tool she might use to fine-tune her looks. She said she had “stubborn fat” that wouldn’t respond to dieting and exercise.


“It [the ads] spoke to me. I was their customer,” she told the magazine. “I understood from the commercials that it wasn’t for obesity.

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She added, “I noticed my body changed over the years and my body didn’t look like it did when I was 22 any longer. So CoolSculpting appealed to me because it wasn’t radical. It was like a spot treatment.”

Evangelista underwent seven treatments in 2015 and 2016, targeting trouble spots, including her chin and jawline, “bra flab” area under her arms, tummy, love handles and inner thighs. Unfortunately, she was one of the tiny percentage of people whose body reacted badly.

She developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, described in a 2014 National Institutes of Health publication as “a rare, previously unreported side effect of cryolipolysis with an incidence of 0.0051%.” Instead of dying away, the fat cells increase in size, turning into hard protrusions on a person’s body.

“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood,” Evangelista wrote on Instagram last September, “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.”

The problem with PAH is that in many cases, it means liposuction can’t work anymore. Evangelista tried that twice, unsuccessfully. When a third surgery was offered, she said no.

“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,” she said.

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Evangelista can no longer put her arms flat to her sides because of rectangular bulges under them. “I don’t think designers are going to want to dress me with that sticking out of my body,” she said.

Last September, the supermodel’s attorney filed a product liability lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc. in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“I don’t recognize me as a person any longer,” Evangelista told People, speaking through tears. “I’m not the same person. She’s sort of gone. Like, my spirit has been broken. “