Former supermodel Linda Evangelista is seeking $50m in damages from the company behind a fat-reducing procedure that she says left her deformed and unemployable when she suffered a rare side effect.
Evangelista, 56, said in a message on Instagram this week that she underwent “CoolSculpting” five years ago and that it had caused her fat cells to increase rather than decrease, leaving her looking horribly bloated.
Evangelista, a 1990s modeling icon from Canada who dominated the catwalks with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, said in the post Wednesday that Zeltiq, the company that devised and markets the procedure, never warned her about this possible side effect.
She said her current appearance — the result of a condition called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) — explained her absence from the public spotlight in recent 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,” Evangelista wrote.
“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,’” she added.
Evangelista filed suit in federal court in New York this week.
In the complaint, Evangelista’s attorneys seek compensation for her “severe and permanent personal injuries and disfigurement, her pain and suffering, severe emotional distress and mental anguish, and the economic losses that she sustained as a result of being rendered unemployable and unable to earn an income as a model.”
Lawyers allege that Zeltiq knew of the risk of the fat-increasing side effect but failed to warn consumers and/or withheld material information from them.
Evangelista has received no modeling revenue since 2016, except money from work predating that year, and has been forced to cancel public engagements, it added.
Evangelista said the procedure — and failed attempts to correct it — had turned her into a depressed recluse.
“I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story,” Evangelista wrote.
“I’m so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”
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