Canadian supermodel and one of the most photographed people in the world, Linda Evangelista posed in front of the camera for the first time after living in seclusion for five years. Evangelista, 56, revealed she was left 'permanently deformed' due to the rare side effects of a cosmetic procedure she underwent six years ago.
Evangelista noted in September that she went into seclusion after having been 'brutally disfigured due to a rare side effect from the fat-reducing procedure, CoolSculpting' six years ago. CoolSculpting is an FDA-cleared 'fat-freezing' procedure that's popular as a noninvasive alternative to liposuction.
Evangelista told PEOPLE that she had undergone seven sessions of the procedure to minimize the number of her fat cells from August 2015 to February 2016. The procedure, however, 'increased' her fat cells instead.
Evangelista sued CoolSculpting's parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, for $50 million in damages in September. She alleged that she's been unable to work since the botched procedure six years ago.
"I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know," the supermodel said, adding that she '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 said.
According to Evangelista, she started noticing bulges at her chin, thighs, and chest within three months of the procedure. Ironically, the same areas she was hoping to shrink with the procedure were growing. In an alarming condition, the bulges first became number and then hardened.
'I thought I was losing my mind'
The supermodel noted that initially, she thought she had done something wrong so she tried to 'fix it' by herself by not eating at all sometimes. "I got to where I wasn't eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind," she said.
In June 2016, she went to her doctor with her symptoms, who diagnosed her with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). It is a rare condition that affects less than one percent of CoolSculpting patients in which the freezing process causes the affected fatty tissue to become thick and expand. Evangelista's doctor told her that no amount of 'dieting or exercise was ever going to fix it.'
A New York City plastic surgeon and professor at Northwell School of Medicine, Dr. Alan Matarasso told PEOPLE that in some cases, the PAH-affected areas are 'not amenable to liposuction like they would've been in the first place.'
A rep for CoolSculpting told PEOPLE in a statement that the procedure 'has been well studied with more than 100 scientific publications and more than 11 million treatments performed worldwide.' The statement also added that warnings about PAH are 'well-documented in the CoolSculpting information for patients and health care providers.'