Linda Evangelista, the supermodel who rose to fame in the 1990s, said she was “brutally disfigured” and “unrecognizable” after a cosmetic body sculpt that turned her into a hermit.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, she referred to filing a lawsuit and said she was taking “a giant step towards correcting an injustice I’ve suffered that I’ve kept to myself for over five years.”
She added, “My followers, who have wondered why I didn’t work while my colleagues’ careers were thriving, is because I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting process, which did the opposite of what I was doing it promised. “
Ms. Evangelista, 56, said she developed paradoxical fat hyperplasia after freezing fat, a side effect that causes patients to develop solid masses of tissue in the treatment areas.
She said the cosmetic procedure “permanently deformed her even after two painful, unsuccessful corrective operations”. She said she was not informed of the risk.
“PAH not only destroyed my livelihood, it also threw me into a cycle of deep depression, deep sadness, and deepest self-loathing,” she wrote. “In doing so, I became a hermit.”
Ms Evangelista, who was known as one of the top five supermodels in the 1990s, shared her story on Instagram, where she has 912,000 followers and where thousands of people have commented or expressed their support. Her story has also been covered extensively in international and national media.
Ms. Evangelista filed a lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc. in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. The lawsuit said she was seeking $ 50 million in damages for her hardship and loss of jobs, promotions and public appearances.
Company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. Ms. Evangelista’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.
The lawsuit states that Ms. Evangelista had seven treatments from August 2015 to February 2016 to break down fat cells in the abdomen, flanks, back and bra areas, inner thighs and chin. Within a few months she developed “hard, plump, painful masses under her skin in these areas,” it said and was diagnosed with PAH in June 2016.
The file states that her quality of life, career, and body “were all ruined in 2016 after she was permanently disfigured by the procedure and multiple subsequent attempts at corrective surgery.”
“MS. Evangelista enjoyed an extremely successful and lucrative modeling career from 1984 to 2016, until she was permanently injured and disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting system,” says the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accused the company of “deliberately withholding” or “inadequately warning” the risks and said Ms. Evangelista was depressed and fearful of going outside.
Ms. Evangelista had performed full-body liposuction in 2016 and 2017 after a doctor referred to her by Zeltiq, but it was unsuccessful and led to scars, the lawsuit said.
“MS. Evangelista was promised a more contoured appearance; instead, the target fat cells actually increased in number and size and formed hard, plump masses under their skin,” it says.
According to CoolSculpting, the procedure has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of visible fat bulges.
In response to questions, the FDA emailed that it was unable to comment on legal disputes but was “committed to ensuring that medical devices are safe, effective and that patients are fully informed about personal health decisions.” It said it monitors consumer reports of adverse events after a device hits the market and “takes action if necessary”.
Cryolipolysis, the name of the non-surgical fat freezing procedure, uses cold temperatures to break down fat cells, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
It is mainly used by patients who want to reduce a certain bulge of fat that they have not been able to get rid of any other way. Generally, the affected area is “evacuated” into the well of an applicator where it is exposed to a cold temperature.
The Society of Surgeons said the complication rate was low, with less than 1 percent of patients able to develop paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which is an unexpected increase in the number of fat cells. The side effect is more common in men than in women, the company said.
Ms. Evangelista also said that public scrutiny of her appearance had harmed her emotionally. “I’m, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable’,” she said.
Jonah E. Bromwich Reporting contributed.