Last year, Linda Evangelista opened up about why she hasn’t joined fellow veteran supers like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington in maintaining a steady modeling modeling career in recent 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,” the 56-year-old supermodel wrote on Instagram in September. “It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two pain, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries.” Five months later, Evangelista is again opening up. She appears on the latest cover of People, which features her first interview on the subject and first photoshoot in four years.
“I loved being up on the catwalk,” Evangelista told the magazine, which noted that she was in tears. “Now I dread running into someone I know. I can’t live like this anymore, in hiding and shame. I just couldn’t live in this pain any longer. I’m willing to finally speak.” She went on to share that the areas of her body she had wanted to shrink instead grew after the seven procedures she underwent in 2015 and 2016, then hardened and numbed.
“I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong,” Evangelista continued. “I got to where I wasn’t eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind.” In 2016, she continued, her doctor told her “no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it.”
The cause, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, reportedly affects less than one percent of those who undergo the frostbite-inspired cryolipolysis procedure, which People describes as the placement of “a roll of fat between two paddles, which cool the fat to a below-freezing temperature,” mimicking frostbite. It is said to have the capability to reduce fat deposits by up to 20 percent. Evangelista has sued the FDA-approved company, which she says offered to pay for liposuction if she signed a confidentiality agreement. She instead independently got liposuction twice in 2016, then again when the symptoms returned the following year.
“If I walk without a girdle in a dress, I will have chafing to the point of almost bleeding,” Evangelista said. “Because it’s not like soft fat rubbing, it’s like hard fat rubbing.” She added that she “can’t put [her] arms flat along [her] side,” and therefore believes that designers would no longer want to dress her. Though after she initially opened up about her condition, industry figures such as Marc Jacobs and Jeremy Scott quickly expressed their support.