- Linda Evangelista told British Vogue how she tried to undo the alleged damage of CoolSculpting.
- After liposuction failed, she said, “the only way I could think of fixing it was zero calories.”
- Evangelista’s side effect is rare, as is liposuction that doesn’t reverse it, a plastic surgeon said.
Linda Evangelista continues to reveal the extremes she went to to shrink her body’s bulges, which she says were the result of a botched CoolSculpting procedure in 2016.
In an August interview with British Vogue, the 57-year-old supermodel said she starved herself after other tactics, including two rounds of liposuction, failed.
“I was so ashamed, I just spent all this money and the only way I could think of fixing it was zero calories, so I just drank water. Or sometimes I’d have a piece of celery or an apple,” she said. Vogue’s Sarah Harris. “I was losing my mind.”
Evangelista spoke about procedure for the first time last year after ‘years of hiding’
In September 2021, Evangelista wrote on Instagram that she was suing CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., for $50 million in damages.
She said the procedure, a less invasive alternative to liposuction, led to a rare side effect called paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which causes the targeted areas to grow and harden rather than shrink.
In February 2020, Evangelista told People more about how the condition, which she said kept her “in hiding” for five years, was affecting her life.
She told People she tried to double down on diet and exercise to the point of starvation, but nothing worked. She said she had liposuction twice afterward to try to repair the damage, but the condition returned.
“I’ve had incisions all over my body. I’ve had stitches, I’ve worn compression garments under my chin, I’ve had my entire body girded up tight for eight weeks — nothing helped,” she told Vogue.
She and the creator of CoolSculpting have since arranged the suit, but Evangelista said she still can’t look in the mirror and deal with someone touching her. “Am I spiritually healed? Absolutely not,” she said.
Less than 0.1% of CoolSculpting patients experience paradoxical fat hyperplasia
CoolSculpting is a fat-freezing procedure that involves squeezing fat between two paddles that are cold enough to kill fat cells and spare the skin, according to WebMD. The liver then removes the dead cells over the following weeks and months.
“CoolSculpting is sought after by many people because it is a simple, painless procedure that takes about an hour,” wrote plastic surgeon Dr. Andy Wongworawat for the Advanced Institute for Plastic Surgery. CoolSculpting, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2010, says it has treated more than 8 million people worldwide.
But paradoxical fat hyperplasia, or PAH, is a possible side effect. Some research suggests it affects only 0.0051% of CoolSculpting patients.
dr. Johnny Franco, a certified plastic surgeon and founder of Austin Plastic Surgeon, previously told Insider that his practice probably sees about one patient with the condition per quarter.
Because it’s so rare, experts don’t know why some CoolSculpting patients get PAH, although it’s more common in men, people of Hispanic or Latino descent, those whose stomachs are targeted, MedicineNet.com reports.
Every procedure comes with some unpredictability, Franco said.
“Whenever you inflict some sort of controlled trauma on the body, sometimes the body reacts differently to protect itself,” he said. In the case of PAH, it appears that the body develops scar tissue and fibrosis instead of flushing out the dead cells, making the growths firmer than typical body fat, he said.
While treatments for PAH-like liposuction usually work well, they can defeat the original purpose of CoolSculpting, Franco said.
“It’s a bit of a journey because most people who did CoolSculpting or any of the minimally invasive or non-invasive fat reductions did it because they wanted to avoid surgery,” he said.