How Linda Evangelista went from $10k-a-day supermodel to ‘disfigured’ recluse after botched treatment & failed lipo | The Sun

SHE was once dubbed ‘the greatest supermodel of all time’, but was deformed by a cosmetic treatment gone wrong.

In her heyday, Linda Evangelista graced the catwalks of countless fashion houses including Chanel, Versace and Christian Dior.

Speaking to fashion bible Vogue in 1990, the supermodel uttered the era-defining phrase: "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." 

The magazine’s famously cold editor-in-chief Anna Wintour quipped: “There was no model more super than Linda.”

The model ultimately retired in 1998 while earning about $8million a year and settled on the French Riviera for a couple of years. 

But in 2015 her glamorous life was changed forever when she chose to have a cosmetic procedure known as CoolSculpting.


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The treatment promises to freeze and ‘decrease’ fat cells but the botched procedure had the opposite effect on Linda.

Three months later, she developed a rare side effect, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), which caused bulging, numb layers of fat.

This week, the one-time supermodel settled with the makers of the treatment for an undisclosed sum – and was welcomed back into the fold of the fashion industry with a shoot for Fendi. 

We tell her journey to beauty hell – and back. 

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Earlier this year, Linda told PEOPLE of her treatment torment: "I don't look in the mirror. It doesn't look like me."

At first she thought her chin, thighs and bra area were putting on weight naturally – and starved herself trying to shift the blubber. 

She said: "I got to where I wasn't eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind."

Eventually she was diagnosed with PAH – an incredibly rare side effect from the procedure, which Linda says she was not made aware of before having CoolSculpting. 

Attempts to reverse the complications were fruitless – the fat returned quickly after each of two liposuctions. 

She also claimed that the owners, Zeltiq, offered her free liposuction but on the eve of the operation sent her an NDA to sign – which she refused. 

Now she is stuck with painful hard masses of fat that cause her to chafe and mean she can’t hold her arms at her side. 

She said: "The bulges are protrusions. And they're hard. 

“If I walk without a girdle in a dress, I will have chafing to the point of almost bleeding. Because it's not like soft fat rubbing, it's like hard fat rubbing."

From a top model to a virtual recluse

Left to battle her scars alone, Linda began avoiding public life – and even her friends. 

She said: "I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know.

"I can't live like this anymore, in hiding and shame. I just couldn't live in this pain any longer.”

But in 2021 she decided enough was enough and she was sick of lurking in the shadows. 

She announced to her 1.2million Instagram followers she was suing Zeltiq for $50million for not warning her of the possible side effects. 

She wrote: “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.

“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.”

In 2017, she passed on the opportunity to walk Versace’s SS18 catwalk at Milan Fashion Week show alongside her fellow 90s glamazons Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Helen Christensen, Carla Bruni, and Cindy Crawford.  

$50m lawsuit settled out of court

In the few pictures available of Linda in hiding, she was bundled up, often wearing a mask while trying to keep her appearance hidden. 

After her public announcement, the fashion industry rushed to support her. 

Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott wrote: "You are and always will be a supermodel, now adding super role model of courage to your glorious resume. I love you."

While fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford penned: "Linda — your strength and true essence are forever recognizable and iconic!”

Naomi Campbell, who rose to fame alongside Linda, added: "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. We love you and here for you always right by your side. I can't imagine the pain you gone through mentally these past 5 years.

"Remember who you are, and What you have achieved and your influence and all the lives of people you have touched, and still doing so to this very day by sharing your story."

And the industry appears to be true to their word. 

This week Linda appeared in her first modelling job since 2016 – celebrating the Fendi Baguette bag’s 25th anniversary. 

Wrapped in a grey turtleneck, glasses and wearing three silk pink caps, Linda started to look like her former self in the shot. 

She later posted a behind the scenes picture from the shoot saying “it takes a village #grateful”

The campaign was swiftly followed by an announcement that she had settled out of court with Zeltiq. 

On Wednesday, she posted: "I'm pleased to have settled the CoolSculpting case. 

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“I look forward to the next chapter of my life with friends and family, and am happy to put this matter behind me.

"I am truly grateful for the support I have received from those who have reached out."

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