Linda Evangelista has revealed how TV commercials convinced her to undergo a cosmetic fat-freezing procedure that left her with a rare side effect that she says endangers her livelihood.
The supermodel stars on the cover of British Vogue’s September issue, her first since announcing she was “permanently deformed” after a treatment known as CoolSculpting.
Although he initially thought the remedy was a “magic potion”, he had to undergo liposuction after developing complications that caused a radical change in his appearance, leaving things “sticking out of me”.
In the interview, he said, “Those CoolSculpting commercials were on all the time, on CNN, on MSNBC, over and over, asking, ‘Do you like what you see in the mirror?’
“They were talking to me. It was stubborn fat in areas that didn’t move. It said no downtime, no surgery and… I drank the magic potion, and I would because I’m a little vain. So I went for it, and it failed.”
Evangelista, 57, said he has tried various methods to correct the rare post-procedure complication known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. He has had two rounds of liposuction and, at one point, stopped eating.
“I was so embarrassed, I had just spent all this money and the only way I could think of to fix it was zero calories so I just drank water. Or sometimes I would eat a celery stick or an apple,” he said. “I was losing my mind.”
Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, which is remarkably rare, occurs when frozen fat cells cause a reaction in the fat tissue that causes the cells to expand rather than break down.
Evangelista said she is now “trying to love me as I am,” but still regrets the procedure. “If he had known the side effects could include losing his livelihood and he would end up so depressed that he would hate himself… he wouldn’t have taken that risk,” he said.
Evangelista said she is still suffering from the psychological effects of the botched surgery, but has gotten help from her friends.
“Am I mentally cured? Absolutely not,” she said. “But I am so grateful for the support I received from my friends and my industry… You won’t see me in a bathing suit, that’s for sure. It will be difficult to find a job with things that stand out from me; no retouching, squeezing things, gluing things, compressing or cheating.”
In the images for Vogue, shot by veteran photographer Steven Meisel, Evangelista looks recognizably glamorous, if noticeably covered up. The model wishes to make it clear that this is not an accurate representation.
“That’s not my jaw and neck in real life, and I can’t walk around with duct tape and elastics everywhere,” Evangelista said in the interview. “You know what, I’m trying to love myself as I am, but for the photos… Look, for the photos I always think that we are here to create fantasies.”
Evangelista was one of the original supermodels (in 1990 she famously joked “we don’t get up for less than $10,000 a day”), but now the reality behind the glamor of this era is coming out.
After Kate Moss opened up about her experiences as a young model on Desert Island Discs in July, Evangelista also shared a story of taking on a modeling contract in Japan when she was 16 years old.
“I went to the agency and it was all, ‘take your clothes off, we need your measurements,’ but they already had my measurements,” she said. “They wanted me naked and it wasn’t a ‘would you do nude’ conversation, it was a ‘would you do nude’ conversation. I went out and called my mother and she told me: ‘Come out now and go to the embassy’. So that’s what I did, and they took me home.”
The model originally opened up about her CoolSculpting experiences on Instagram in September 2021. She went on to sue Zeltiq Aesthetics, the company behind CoolSculpting, citing serious injuries, for $50m (£42m). The suit was settled last month, for an undisclosed amount.
This Vogue cover is the second high-profile photo shoot she has completed in the last year. In July, she appeared in an advertisement for the luxury brand Fendi, also photographed by Steven Meisel.
In a statement to Vogue, a Zeltiq US representative said: “We are pleased to have resolved this matter with Ms. Evangelista.”
“Our focus continues to be building trust by providing safe and reliable aesthetic products and services backed by science. CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved non-invasive treatment for visible fat bulges in nine areas of the body.”