Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista is opening up about why she took a step back from the public eye.

The 56-year-old, from St. Catharines, shared a post on Instagram titled “The Truth, My Story,” in which she explained how she’d undergone the fat-reduction procedure CoolSculpting five years ago and it had left her “permanently deformed.”

Evangelista shared, “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 by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised.”

She continued, “It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and left me permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries. I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable.’”

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Evangelista, who was one of the most in-demand supermodels of the 1990s, went on to say of struggling with depression, “I have developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia or PAH, a risk of which I was not made aware before I had the procedures.

“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, who made some of her last public appearances in 2015, concluded: “With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story.

“I am so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”

A statement from Evangelista’s lawyer, Daniel Markham of Wrobel Markham LLP, to ET read: “On September 21, 2021, Linda Evangelista through her counsel Wrobel Markham LLP filed a products liability lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against ZELTIQ Aesthetics Inc for grievous injuries Ms. Evangelista suffered as a result of ZELTIQ’s CoolScuplting System. By doing so, Ms. Evangelista is standing up not only for herself but for others who have been similarly injured and ignored by ZELTIQ.”

Showing images of how CoolSculpting changed their potential side-effects, they added, “It is telling that ZELTIQ disclosed the risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (“PAH”) to its investors in its SEC filings years before disclosing that rick in any of its aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing material. Zeltiq’s 2012 10-K warned its investors of possible ‘additional liability from claimed related to known rare side effects such as late on-set pain, subcutaneous induration, hernia, and paradoxical hyperplasia’ and that its product liability insurance ‘may not be adequate to cover [Zeltiq] against possible liability.'”

The statement concluded, “Remarkably, ZELTIQ’s marketing material and the CoolScuplting website failed to mention risk of PAH until after Ms. Evangelista underwent the procedures. ZELTIQ failed to even include any general warning on CoolSculpting’s main homepage until February 2019.”

Evangelista was praised by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, January Jones and Jeremy Scott, with them insisting she would always be beautiful inside and out.

Credit: Instagram/Linda Evangelista
Credit: Instagram/Linda Evangelista

Evangelista’s fellow supermodels also shared their support for the star.

“I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure,” Paulina Porizkova commented on the post. “Coming out of the shadow is so strong and courageous. I applaud you and welcome back in the light where you belong!”

Karen Elson added, “I can only imagine the pain and trauma you experienced because of this. Especially as our identity as women has been defined by how we look. We’ve been praised and vilified for it. It’s so confusing and oftentimes the media that builds us up then so easily tears us down. I know it’s easy for me to say but I look at you with so much admiration. No one can take away that essence you alone have, but you don’t deserve this.”

Designer Brandon Maxwell wrote a heartfelt comment for Evangelista, “As someone who idolized you growing up, and still does to this day, I have always recognized you as someone who was physically beautiful, yes, but more importantly you really shone bright from within. It has been your sense of humour, your innate joy, and your ability to present so effortlessly the best in life that I’ve always been the most attracted to. In your darkest moments may you never forget the light you have sparked in so many, and continue to. Sending you all the love. ❤️”

ET Canada has contacted Zeltiq parent company Allergan for comment.

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