Linda Evangelista Is 'Done Hiding' Her Body After Claiming a Fat-Freezing Procedure Left Her 'Disfigured'

'I can't live like this anymore, in hiding and shame,' the supermodel says.

Linda Evangelista isn't hiding anymore. Nearly five months after the 56-year-old supermodel filed a lawsuit claiming she was "brutally disfigured" by a fat-freezing procedure, she's no longer covering up.

"I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know," Evangelista tells People. "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."

Evangelista filed her $50 million lawsuit in September 2021 after she says she underwent a Zeltiq's FDA-approved CoolSculpting procedure in 2016. ET previously reached out to Zeltiq Aesthetics for comment.

In court docs previously obtained by ET, Evangelista claimed that her "quality of life, her career, and her body" were all ruined in 2016 after she says she was permanently disfigured as a result of allegedly using ZELTIQ's CoolSculpting System as well as undergoing multiple procedures and surgeries required to try to correct those physical injuries as directed by ZELTIQ."

Evangelista now tells People that, within three months of her claiming a procedure, she started noticing bulges at her chin, thighs and bra area. She says the areas began growing, hardening and eventually turned numb. 

"I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong," Evangelista says of trying dieting and exercising. "I got to where I wasn't eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind."

Five years later, she says she finally sought help from her doctor.

"I dropped my robe for him. I was bawling," she recalls, "and I said, 'I haven't eaten, I'm starving. What am I doing wrong?'"

Evangelista says her doctor diagnosed her with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) and told her that "no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it."

According to Healthline, PAH is a rare but serious side effect of CoolSculpting, in which the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger rather than smaller.

A representative for CoolSculpting tells the outlet that the procedure "has been well studied with more than 100 scientific publications and more than 11 million treatments performed worldwide," adding that known rare side effects like PAH "continue to be well-documented in the CoolSculpting information for patients and health care providers." 

Evangelista says she had two liposuction procedures, but her apparent PAH returned.

"It wasn't even a little bit better," she claims. "The bulges are protrusions. And they're hard. If I walk without a girdle in a dress, I will have chafing to the point of almost bleeding. Because it's not like soft fat rubbing, it's like hard fat rubbing."

Now, Evangelista says, she can't even "put my arms flat along my side" and avoids looking in the mirror because "it doesn't look like me."

"Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]? I always knew I would age. And I know that there are things a body goes through. But I just didn't think I would look like this," she tells the magazine. "I don't recognize myself physically, but I don't recognize me as a person any longer either. She is sort of gone."

Evangelista hopes that, by coming forward with her story, she can help people who are going through similar things.

"I hope I can shed myself of some of the shame and help other people who are in the same situation as me. That's my goal," she says. "I'm not going to hide anymore."