Linda Evangelista recently shared how a rare side effect from a fat-freezing procedure she underwent five years ago has left her ‘brutally disfigured’ and a recluse.
Now the supermodel, 56, is talking about the devastating impact that the aftermath of CoolSculpting – which increased her fat cells instead of decreasing them – had on her relationship with son Augustin James Evangelista, 15.
‘[Augie] used to say, “Mommy, do you remember when you used to be fun? Remember when you used to laugh all the time? How come you don’t laugh anymore?” I hate what this has done to my relationship with him,’ she said in an interview with PEOPLE.
Difficult: Linda Evangelista, 56, shared the devastating impact that her fat-freezing procedure gone wrong has had on her relationship with son Augustin, 15; Evangelista pictured with Augustin on May, 2014 in NY
The fashion icon went on to disclose that even though she has always taught her son – whom she shares with billionaire François-Henri Pinault, 59 (who is now wed to Salma Hayek) – that outward appearance is not an indicator of beauty, she is not able to apply that reasoning to her own case.
‘It is very important for me to raise him knowing that he is beautiful and knowing that everyone is beautiful,’ she said, adding, ‘It’s so messed up that I truly believe that except it doesn’t pertain to me.’
The runway sensation has kept her condition private from her loved ones in order to not ‘burden’ them.
Painful: ‘”Mommy, do you remember when you used to be fun?”‘ she recalled her son’s words, adding, ‘I hate what this has done to my relationship with him’
‘I should not be a burden to my child. He shouldn’t have to be supporting me. That’s not his job,’ she said.
Evangelista explained that she retreated from the public eye after the cosmetic procedure – which was designed to decrease fat cells but actually made her fat cells increase – and bulges began to appear all over her body.
‘No one sees me,’ she said, explaining that she has mostly been suffering in total reclusion, only leaving her home to walk her dog or for her son’s school events.
Her truth: In a new interview with PEOPLE, the supermodel shared her nightmare experience with CoolSculpting, after which she developed a rare side effect that made her fat cells increase instead of decreasing
The Canadian native finally revealed her story in September 2021, when she opened up about the cosmetic surgery horror in an emotional Instagram post.
‘I told [Augie] he might be hearing some things, and he said he didn’t care, that he’s there for me,’ she said of her son’s support.
According to Evangelista, she had undergone seven sessions of the procedure from August 2015 to February 2016, and insists she was not warned of the rare side effect, so she is now taking legal action.
Isolation: ‘No one sees me,’ she said, explaining that she has been mostly suffering in total reclusion; Pictured left, in 2017, AFTER having the procedure, and R on May 4, 2015
The rare side effect, called paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) – which she was diagnosed with in June 2016 – affects less than 1 percent of patients.
‘He told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it,’ she remembered her doctor’s words.
The Vogue icon detailed how she ‘stopped eating’ and thought she was losing her mind when bulges began to appear at her chin, thighs and bust area – and how she now ‘dreads running into someone she knows’ after decades as a catwalk sensation.
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. I’m willing to finally speak.’
Opening up: The Canadian native finally revealed her truth in September 2021, when she opened up about the cosmetic surgery horror in an emotional Instagram post
Struggling with body image: The runway sensation had been sharing social media photos that appeared to hide her chin area
She filed a lawsuit last September suing CoolSculpting’s parent company, Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, for $50 million in damages. Linda claims she has been unable to work since the procedures.
In June 2016 Linda underwent a full body liposuction procedure which she claims she paid for. She underwent liposuction again in July 2017.
Linda said she had to wear girdles, a chin strap and compression garments for eight weeks after the liposuction to prevent the PAH coming back – but said the condition did return after her second liposuction.
The model says she can no longer bear to look in the mirror as ‘it doesn’t look like me’.
Before: The model says she can no longer bear to look in the mirror as ‘it doesn’t look like me’; Pictured in 2004 in Sydney, Australia