Linda Evangelista Opens Up About 'Deforming' Procedure

Linda Evangelista Opens Up About 'Deforming' Procedure

by Anna Montagner

In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Linda Evangelista – one of the most influential fashion icons of the ‘90s and muse of legendary designers – opened up about a cosmetic procedure that has distorted her body permanently, leaving her “unrecognizable.”

The supermodel, who at her height sparked the worldwide phenomenon of “The Linda” boyish haircut in the early ‘90s, has been living privately, hiding from the spotlight for almost five years. Now, she is finally ready to talk about her traumatic experience with CoolSculpting — an FDA-cleared "fat-freezing" procedure that's meant to be a noninvasive alternative to liposuction. However, the outcome left her "permanently deformed" and "brutally disfigured," as she said in an Instagram post last September.

After undergoing seven sessions of CoolSculpting between August 2015 and February 2016, which were supposed to shrink and firm up her body, Evangelista started noticing that she was getting the opposite result. Her body reacted quite differently from what the supermodel expected and began developing lumps on the chin, thighs and bra area. These swollen masses then hardened and turned numb.

Evangelista revealed that she began dieting and exercising in order to go back to her natural shape. "I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong," and added "I got to where I wasn't eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind." When she finally went to her doctor, she received the unfortunate diagnosis, Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). "I was like, 'What the hell is that?' And he told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it," Evangelista recalled.

It is reported that less than 1% of CoolSculpting patients are affected by PAH. It is a rare side effect induced by the freezing process that causes the fatty tissue to thicken and expand. Dr. Alan Matarasso, a New York City plastic surgeon who has never treated Evenagelista, tells PEOPLE that “the problem with PAH is that, in some instances, it may not go away. In many circumstances the affected areas are no longer amenable to liposuction.”

"I can't live like this anymore, in hiding and shame,” Evangelista said of her experience. “I just couldn't live in this pain any longer. I'm willing to finally speak."

Photo via Getty/ Newsmakers