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Model Linda Evangelista says body sculpting side-effect left her 'deformed'


Canadian model Linda Evangelista, who commanded catwalks and magazine covers in the 1990s, is opening up about her private struggles with what she characterizes as a cosmetic treatment gone wrong.

The St. Catharines, Ont., native wrote in an Instagram post that she's suffered financially and psychologically for five years after undergoing a fat-reduction procedure that she says had the opposite of its desired effect.

"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," she told her more than 900,000 followers.

"It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed."

CoolSculpting is a non-surgical body-shaping technique developed by Zeltiq Aesthetics, a subsidiary of Allergan, that uses cold temperatures to break down fat cells in certain parts of the body. The method is approved by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Evangelista said she suffered from a side-effect known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, or PAH, in which the fatty tissue grows rather than shrinks. The condition, which typically presents a few months after the procedure, can cause the treated area to become visibly enlarged and firm.

On the CoolSculpting website, the manufacturer said this side-effect is "rare" and can be remedied through surgery, such as liposuction.

Evangelista said she underwent two corrective surgeries, but they were "unsuccessful."

Representatives for Evangelista and Allergan did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday.

Evangelista said the change in her appearance has damaged her livelihood and mental health.

"It has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing," she said. "In the process, I have become a recluse." 

Evangelista said she hopes that going public with her story will help her free herself from shame and move forward.

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

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2021.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press