Linda Evangelista says she's 'permanently deformed' after procedure

‘I am brutally disfigured’: Model Linda Evangelista, 56, claims she’s been ‘permanently deformed’ following rare side effect to cosmetic procedure – as she vows to sue doctors after being left an ‘unrecognisable recluse’

  • The supermodel, 56, claimed she is ‘unrecognisable’ after being ‘brutally disfigured’ from paradoxical adipose hyperplasia – a rare side effects of the popular CoolSculpting procedure 
  • The procedure is designed to ‘decrease’ fat cells, but instead has ‘increased’ her fat cells
  • PAH has a rate of incidence of 0.0051% of the 1.5m CoolSculpting procedures performed worldwide, however Linda claims she was not alerted to the risks before undergoing the treatment 
  • The bereft supermodel wrote: ‘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’ 
  • Linda was one of the Nineties most prominent models alongside Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and is deemed one of the most successful supermodels ever, appearing on over 700 magazine covers

Linda Evangelista claimed she has been ‘brutally disfigured’ from the rare side effects of a cosmetic procedure she underwent five years ago, as she explained her absence from the spotlight on Instagram on Wednesday. 

The supermodel, 56, took a tentative step back into the public eye when she blamed her ‘reclusive’ behaviour on a disfiguring procedure. In the social media statement, the Nineties-icon claimed she had been ‘permanently deformed’ due to a rare side effect from the fat-reducing procedure.

According to Linda, she had undergone a CoolSculpting procedure to ‘decrease’ her fat cells, but instead the procedure ‘increased’ her fat cells, a peril she insists she was not warned of, so is now seeking legal action. 

She has developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia – a rare, previously unreported adverse effect of cryolipolysis, which has been reported in of 0.0051% of the 1.5 million CoolSculpting procedures performed worldwide. 

Dramatic return: Supermodel Linda Evangelista, 56, claimed in an Instagram statement on Wednesday that she had been ‘permanently deformed’ after a CoolSculpting procedure caused a rare side effect (pictured left, in 2017, and right in 2005)

Rare adverse effect: She claimed she had developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia, a condition in which fat cells increase rather than decreasing after a cryolipolysis procedure

Linda’s statement read: ‘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…

‘[It] did the opposite of what it promised. It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful corrective surgeries. I have been left, as the media described, “unrecognizable.”‘

The model claimed she wasn’t properly warned of the potential side effects associated with the CoolSculpting procedure. She went on: ‘I have developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia or PAH, a risk of which I was not made aware before I had the procedures…

‘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. In the process, I have become a recluse…

That was then: Linda is pictured in 2016 in Tokyo, in one of her most recent appearances, which came shortly after the treatment which caused her fat cells to increase and cause weight gain 

Changing look: Linda shared snaps on social media in 2019, yet kept her face largely obscured beneath hats 

‘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. I would like to walk out my door with my held held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.’ 

During a cryolipolysis procedure, also known as body sculpting, a device that’s usually set below freezing temperature is applied to fat deposits, which causes cell death in the fat tissue.

The body can then pass the dead fat cells. 

She described developing Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia, a rare condition sometimes observed after similar procedures in which adipose tissue (or body fat) increases after procedures known as cryolipolysis, even though they usually decrease adipose tissue. 

Changes: Linda was showing  her evolving appearance in 2017 (left) when she was pictured in Tokyo shortly after undergoing the procedure, while she looked different at the Met Gala in 2015 (right) 

According to Healthline, the increased fat deposits aren’t harmful, but they also don’t appear to go away on their own over time. The ‘very rare’ condition is most common in men who have undergone cryolipolysis, though it can still affect women.

Linda singled out the Allergan subsidiary Zeltiq for allegedly performing the botched procedure without informing her of the potential negative side effects. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar was unveiled as a CoolSculpting ambassador last year. 

Speaking at the time, Sarah detailed that while she is incredibly fit and healthy she struggles with difficult to shift areas of fat. She said: ‘I had had such a positive experience with the procedure [Coolsculpting®] (and the results)…

‘I was able to target those specific areas with an incredible result and with only an hour of my time (I even managed to get through a few chapters in the book I was reading) so you know that’s a win for me.’ 



Linda’s last appearance was on social media two years ago. Her face was largely concealed by hats in a duo of images she uploaded, with her transformed image barely-visible. 

In another image taken during a horseride, Linda wore a mask over her face, as well as a hat and sunglasses As well as keeping her face partially hidden in the images, Linda did not let any of her body be seen in the images.  


Sightings of the star in 2017 saw the biggest change in her appearance fresh from undergoing the ill-fated treatment the previous year. 

She was seen in Tokyo twice, during which she had a fuller face and seemed somewhat puffy as she was showing the aftermath of the side effects, which she has since lamented on social media. 


According to her statement, Linda would have undergone the CoolSculpting in 2016. 

One of her rare sightings was in April of that year, when she was again seen in Tokyo. During the appearance, she was seen looking different to her appearances the previous year, in which she was seen looking svelte. 

Clad in all-black, the supermodel made a low-key arrival and went make-up free for the outing. 


The year before Linda underwent her CoolSculpting, the star was looking wholly more like her runway self, as she took to the red carpet at the Met Gala in May. 

In June, she was again seen on the red carpet, this time at the Fragrance Awards.  

Linda’s post elicited an outpouring of sympathy and supporting from the model’s admirers and friends in the fashion industry.

Moschino Creative Director Jeremy Scott penned: ‘You are and always will be a supermodel now adding super role model of courage to your glorious resume. I love you’. 

Mad Men star January Jones said: ‘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.’

Evangelista’s fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford wrote: ‘Linda — your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic! Bravo!’. Gwyneth Paltrow shared her love with a heart emoji. 

Fellow supermodel Helena Christensen shared a moving comment for her old friend.  She penned: ‘It would’ve taken immense courage and strength to write these words. I can honestly say that I broke down in tears reading this…

CoolSculpting is the original form of cryolipolysis. Areas are sucked into a handpiece and cooled so fat cells freeze, die and are excreted. One session is needed, but can be repeated after 12 weeks. Each treatment takes an hour and results are seen from around three weeks

‘Not only because I knew in my heart you somehow had been quietly going through something deeply personal and disturbing but also because I thought of all the scars life leaves on us all, whether physical or emotional and how long we suffer mostly in silence and alone. 

‘It is so important and beautiful when someone steps out of the shadow and are brutally honest and real. Thank you for being beautiful inside and out.’

Naomi Campbell, who soared to fame alongside Linda in their heyday, wrote: ‘Elos I applaud you for your Courage and strength to Share your experience and not be held hostage by it anymore .. You know I love you…

‘We love you and here for you always Right by your side .. I can’t imagine the pain you gone through mentally these past 5 years ., your free of it now….


The CoolSculpting® fat-freezing procedure is a non-surgical fat reduction treatment using controlled cooling known as cryolipolysis to removed stubborn fat that’s difficult to shift, even with diet and exercise.

CoolSculpting® technology delivers precisely-controlled cooling to target the fat cells underneath the skin, whilst leaving the skin itself unaffected.

It doesn’t use needles, and there is minimal downtime after treatment. CoolSculpting® is available in over 74 countries, and to date over 8 million treatment cycles have been carried out worldwide. 

CoolSculpting‘s popularity as a fat removal procedure is increasing in United States. The treatment received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2010. CoolSculpting treatments then raised by 823 percent.

A 2009 study looked at the efficacy of cryolipolysis. Researchers found that cryolipolysis reduced the treated fat layer by as much as 25 percent. 

The results were still present six months after the treatment. Frozen, dead fat cells are excreted out of the body through the liver within several weeks of treatment, revealing full results of fat loss within three months. 


‘Remember who you are , and What you have achieved and your influence and all the lives of people you have touched , and still doing so to this very day by sharing your story . Proud of you , and support you every step of the way’. 

Linda previously told the Mail On Sunday that she hadn’t had any work done and hoped to grow old gracefully.

She said: ‘There was a picture of me in the press recently just after I’d had a facial, in which I was wearing no make-up. It was claimed that I had had this and that procedure done, and it was rubbish…

‘I probably will have surgery – not right now, but I am getting close. If it’s important to me I will have it, and announce that I’ve had it.’

Stunner: Linda got her start in modelling at the age of 16 when she took part in the Miss Teen Niagara beauty pageant, where she was spotted by a representative from Elite Model Management (pictured in 1997)


Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia is a rare, previously unreported adverse effect of cryolipolysis. 

Cryolipolysis uses cooling to damage and destroy subcutaneous fat cells, without damaging the skin to reduce the amount of fat in the treated area.

This phenomenon of PAH has a reported rate of incidence of 0.0051% of the 1.5 million CoolSculpting procedures performed worldwide. Many physicians see numerous cases in their offices.

PAH causes a gradual enlargement of the treated area. It occurs when the stimulus (the freezing of fat cells) activates a reactionary process in the fatty tissue that thickens and expands the fat cells rather than breaking them down and allowing the body to process and remove them.

PAH is only known to occur following a cryolipolysis, or CoolSculpting body contouring treatment. 

PAH typically cannot be confirmed until about 6 months post-procedure, with patients complaining that they are getting bigger in the exact shape of the applicator, as depicted below.


All star support: Linda was met with gushing support from her celebrity friends 

The model muse was best known in the nineties as one of the world’s six supermodels, a group which also included Naomi, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss.

The comment in her statement about her peers ‘thriving’ comes after her peers reunited on the Versace runway in 2017 – with the ‘Originals’ gathering to showcase the latest collection. 

Donatella Versace gathered Claudia, Naomi and Cindy alongside Helena Christensen  and Carla Bruni to walk the runway following on from their frequent appearances for the brand in their heyday.   

Starring role: The comment in her statement about her peers ‘thriving’ comes after her peers reunited on the Versace runway in 2017 – with the ‘Originals’ gathering to showcase the latest collection – with Linda notably absent 

Star: Linda (left) was notably absent from the 2017 Versace reunion, despite being a stalwart of the brand’s campaigns (pictured in 1991 alongside Cindy, Naomi and Christy Turlington L-R) 

Linda got her start in modelling at the age of 16 when she took part in the Miss Teen Niagara beauty pageant, where she was spotted by a representative from Elite Model Management.

Her unique and versatile look meant that Linda was able to snag a multitude of modelling jobs, quickly becoming one of the highest paid models in the industry.

Since then, she has starred in campaigns for brands including NARS, Fendi, L’Oreal, Chanel, Talbots and Moschino.

These days she spends less time on the catwalk, but Linda is still a regular fixture in magazines and ad campaigns.

As of 2014, Linda was worth approximately $18million (£11.7million).She has one child, an 14-year-old son named Augustin, with former flame, French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, who is now married to actress Salma Hayek.

Usually safe: The procedure Evangelista had normally uses below-freezing temperatures on fat tissue deposits to kill the fat cells, allowing the body to pass them; seen in 2012 in NYC

On her side: Fellow supermodels Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen shared moving comments to support her, while Gwyneth Paltrow posted a heart emoji (pictured in 2005 in Milan, Italy)

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