After Linda Evangelista spoke out about being ‘permanently deformed’ by the fat-freezing procedure CoolSculpting, an American beauty blogger says that she feels the supermodel’s pain — because she also developed a rare adverse reaction that has left her with a permanent hard bulge on her stomach.
On Thursday, Evangelista, 56, revealed that she was ‘brutally disfigured’ by CoolSculpting, and has since required ‘two painful, unsuccessful surgeries’ and fallen into a cycle of ‘deep depression’ and ‘self-loathing.’
Barbie Ritzman, a 51-year-old beauty blogger who runs Barbie’s Beauty Bits, also underwent CoolSculpting in 2019, and says that she was left with a hard ‘mommy tummy bulge’ which is ‘the exact size of the CoolSculpting device’ and appears to be ‘getting more prominent over time.’
Like Evangelista, Ritzman developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a rare condition in which the tissues gets bigger rather than shrinks, and says she was not sufficiently warned that this could happen.
‘I feel her pain. I, too, was deformed. However, I am not a model where my body is part of my job,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘She and many others in her situation, including me, were not adequately educated on the side effects.’
Barbie Ritzman, a 51-year-old beauty blogger, developed the same rare condition as Linda Evangelista after undergoing CoolSculpting
She says that she was left with a hard ‘mommy tummy bulge’ which is ‘the exact size of the CoolSculpting device’ and appears to be ‘getting more prominent over time’
Like Evangelista, Ritzman developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a condition in which the tissues gets bigger rather than shrinks – and says she was not sufficiently warned that this could happen
Over two years later, Ritzman is still impacted by the effects of the procedure.
‘I look like I have a mommy tummy bulge, and I have never given birth,’ she said. ‘The area is hard and seems to be getting more prominent over time. It does not really hurt as it has been a few years, but it is uncomfortable if you rub it.
‘I was not overweight when I had the CoolSculpting,’ she continued. ‘After the procedure, I looked bigger.
‘Because of the nasty bulge I now have, I will not wear anything tight over my stomach as I look pregnant. I will not wear a bathing suit either. Or be naked in the dark in front of my boyfriend as I am so self-conscious.’
Ritzman tried CoolSculpting at a local doctor’s office in 2019 as part of a fat-reducing package. After undergoing red light therapy, which successfully reduced her body fat, she went on to sit for CoolSculpting, which was supposed to help contour her stomach.
‘While red light was successful, the CoolSculpting was a downhill nightmare,’ she said.
CoolSculpting, which is FDA-approved, uses cryolipolysis to freeze fat cells between two cooling paddles on the skin. This causes the fat cells to die, and the body’s immune system destroys them over time.
‘I was not overweight when I had the CoolSculpting,’ she continued. ‘After the procedure, I looked bigger. Because of the nasty bulge I now have, I will not wear anything tight over my stomach as I look pregnant’
Immediately after the procedure, the area was puckered and red – but that never fully went away, leaving her with hard tissue that makes her ‘so self-conscious’
But according to a 2014 study, about 0.0051% of patients can develop PAH.
Ritzman, like Evangelista, says she wasn’t directly told that this was a possibility when she went in for the procedure.
‘I do not think they told me the side effects verbally; I think they were probably (and I am guessing) on the paperwork I was rushed through to sign,’ she admitted.
Ritzman described the procedure itself as painful. It ‘felt like someone grabbing your stomach muscles, pulling them out, and tying them tight like you would do a shoestring when lacing one over the other and then pulling them taut,’ she said.
‘It was hard to breathe because my lower abdomen area was pulled tight from being sucked up into the CoolSculpting device.’
The area went numb, and stayed that way for over a month afterward — which she said was the first sign that made her suspect something had gone awry.
‘After the procedure, most patients experience mild side effects such as redness, tingling, and numbness, which are to go away,’ she said.
‘Mine seemed longer. About the second week in, I still had no feeling in the area where I had the procedure done, and it was still very red and swollen.’
The doctor reassured her that she was fine but told her to check back in a month.
She was told that the only way to fix the issue was to undergo liposuction — which, unlike CoolSculpting, is an invasive procedure
To add insult to injury, she said the doctor who performed the CoolSculpting procedure was ‘insulting and dismissive’ of her problem, and later closed up shop
But her condition still didn’t improve — in fact, it got worse.
‘I started to notice a bulge that was getting harder, that to me looked like the CoolSculpting applicator,’ she recalled.
‘I brought this up to the doctor, but he dismissed it and proceeded to say that sometimes you must have more than one process done to remove the fat.’
But Ritzman knew this wasn’t right. Her stomach was bigger than it had been before the procedure, with an area made up of not a ‘flabby fat’ or ‘soft fat’ but rather a ‘very hard’ tissue that was ‘the exact size of the CoolSculpting device, in the exact place it was used.’
Later, a professional at another facility told her that she had PAH — a condition she still has today.
She was told that the only way to fix the issue was to undergo liposuction — which, unlike CoolSculpting, is an invasive procedure.
Ritzman intends to speak to a plastic surgeon but has not yet done so.
To add insult to injury, she said the doctor who performed the CoolSculpting procedure was ‘insulting and dismissive’ of her problem, and later closed up shop.
She urges others who are considering CoolSculpting to educate themselves, and said she hopes that facilities that offer it will be more clear in verbally warning patients about the potential side effect — and not just assumed they read it in the fine print.
Supermodel Linda Evangelista, 56, claimed hat she had been ‘permanently deformed’ after a CoolSculpting procedure caused a rare side effect (pictured left, in 2017, after having the procedure and before the procedure; right in 2005)
Rare adverse effect: She claimed she had developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia, a condition in which fat cells increase rather than decreasing after a cryolipolysis procedure
‘I think they need to share the side effects verbally and explain in detail what it means,’ she said.
She also has sympathy for Evangelista, whose livelihood is dependent on meeting a certain beauty standard.
‘It saddens me that she paid to look bad, which is what has happened. Instead of reducing, she got bigger,’ she said.
The supermodel shocked fans earlier this week when she posted on Instagram to share her harrowing experience with CoolSculpting.
‘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.
Evangelista is pictured in 2016 in Tokyo, in one of her most recent appearances, which came shortly after the treatment which caused her fat cells to increase and cause weight gain
She shared snaps on social media in 2019, yet kept her face largely obscured beneath hats and her body entirely off-camera (pictured in June 2019)
‘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 described, “unrecognizable.”‘
‘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.’
That same day, she filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York against the company for lost earnings and emotional distress.
‘With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story. I’m so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my held held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to CoolSculpting for comment.