Linda Evangelista: I have been 'permanently deformed' by fat-freezing procedure

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Linda Evangelista, pictured here in 2003, was one of the first supermodels - Jamie McCarthy
Linda Evangelista, pictured here in 2003, was one of the first supermodels - Jamie McCarthy

In the 1990s Linda Evangelista was one of the most beautiful women in the world, famously telling Vogue she wouldn't get out of bed to strut down a catwalk for less than $10,000.

But about five years ago the Canadian supermodel mysteriously vanished from the fashion scene and became a recluse.

Rare public glimpses suggested something unusual had happened to the stunning face that once graced magazine covers and fashion shows around the world.

Last night, Ms Evangelista, now 56, broke her silence, claiming she had been "permanently deformed" and "brutally disfigured" after undergoing a widely used cosmetic procedure to freeze fat cells.

In a post on Instagram she said: "Today I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five 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."

She said the procedure had done the opposite of what it promised, increasing not decreasing her fat cells.

Ms Evangelista said she had been left "unrecognisable" and "permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful corrective surgeries."

Evangelista said she has become 'unrecognizable' - Instagram
Evangelista said she has become 'unrecognizable' - Instagram

The fat freezing process, called cryolipolysis, does not involve surgery and instead uses cold temperatures on localised bulges of fat, including under the chin and jawline.

Ms Evangelista said she had developed a complication called Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia [PAH] which led to the fatty tissues growing.

She said: "PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing. In the process, I have become a recluse."

Evangelista says she has become a 'recluse' due to the procedure's side effects - Instagram
Evangelista says she has become a 'recluse' due to the procedure's side effects - Instagram

The supermodel indicated she was suing the company behind the procedure, saying: "With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story.

"I'm so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my held held high, despite not looking like myself any longer."

Ms Evangelista began modelling at the age of 16, after being scouted by Elite Model Management at a Miss Niagara contest, and became a darling of the fashion and beauty industries.

In 1988 she cut her hair short in a crop that became widely known as "The Linda" and she signed lucrative deals with brands including L’Oreal Paris.

Two year later she was dubbed one of the "Magnificent Seven" by the New York Times, along with fellow supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen, Elle Macpherson and Christy Turlington.

Model Linda Evangelista at an event in 2015 prior to the cosmetic procedure - Gilbert Carrasquillo /FilmMagic
Model Linda Evangelista at an event in 2015 prior to the cosmetic procedure - Gilbert Carrasquillo /FilmMagic

Her latest revelation sent shockwaves through the fashion world, and fellow supermodels praised her for speaking out.
Ms Campbell said: "Elos I applaud you for your courage and strength to share your experience and not be held hostage by it anymore … you know I love you..."

Ms Crawford added: "Linda - your strength and true essence are forever recognisable and iconic! Bravo!"
And Ms Christensen said she "broke down in tears" reading her friend's Instagram post.

In 1991 Ms Evangelista was involved in one of the most iconic moments in fashion history when she walked the Versace catwalk arm-in-arm with Ms Campbell, Ms Crawford and Ms Turlington to the soundtrack of George Michael’s "Freedom".

She regularly appeared in magazines and fashion events until 2015. But in 2017, when the original supermodels reunited in Milan to recreate the 1991 Versace moment, Ms Evangelista was notable by her absence.

The cryolipolysis procedure is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is reported to be one of the most popular non-surgical fat reduction treatments.

According to Healthline, PAH is a "very rare" side effect, which more commonly affects men than women.

The company behind the product, Zeltiq, clearly warns of the side effect. Parent company Allergan was not immediately available for comment.

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