Linda Evangelista says she stopped eating at one point while dealing with her paradoxical adipose hyperplasia following a CoolSculpting procedure that left several areas of her face and body with protruding fatty tissue.
The legendary model, who spoke out publicly for the first time in September 2021 about how the rare post-procedure complication had impacted her mental health and ability to work, recently shared more details about her experience with the cosmetic treatment to British Vogue for its September cover story.
While describing the ordeal, for which she filed and has since settled a lawsuit with CoolSculpting company Zeltiq, the model revealed that beyond attempting to correct what happened with liposuction, she at one point even reduced her diet to water in hopes she could get rid of the hard, fatty lumps.
“I have incisions all over my body. I have had stitches, I have worn compression garments under my chin, I’ve had my entire body tightly girdled for eight weeks — nothing helped,” she says. “I was so embarrassed, I’d just spent all this money and the only way I could think of to fix it was zero calories, and so I just drank water. Or sometimes I would have a stick of celery or one apple.”
“I was losing my mind,” she adds, noting that the mental health impact became visible to her own teenage son Augustin James Evangelista, who Evangelista had with Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault.
The model says following the procedure, she only left her home — completely covered in clothing — to take her now 15-year-old son to a football game. But as she was hiding her body from the public, she was also hiding herself from him, she says.
“What really stabbed me in the heart was when he said to me, ‘Remember when you used to be so much fun? Remember when you used to laugh all the time?’” Evangelista says, recalling a moment that stuck with her. “It was such an innocent comment. That was a lot to handle.”
She did eventually open up to him, noting that he started asking why she, unlike her friends, wasn’t working. The model says she told him that a lawsuit would publicly disclose what had happened to her and that he “might hear things and be embarrassed.”
“He was as understanding as a 13-year-old could be,” she recalls. “He said, ‘Why would I be embarrassed? I’m sad for you. I’m not embarrassed.’ Then he said, ‘I’m going to take care of you, don’t worry.’”
“What parent wants to be a burden to their child?” she continues to tell the magazine, crying and then laughing in exasperation. “So, as you can see, telling my story did me so much good.”
During the interview, Evangelista says she misses work, and despite being on the fashion magazine’s cover — along with doing a Fendi campaign — she is ultimately reluctant to call any of it a comeback.
“You’re not going to see me in a swimsuit, that’s for sure,” she says. “It’s going to be difficult to find jobs with things protruding from me; without retouching, or squeezing into things, or taping things or compressing or tricking.”