Nineties supermodel Linda Evangelista has sued Zeltiq Aestethics, a company that specializes in cryolipolysis — or fat removal by freezing — procedures, after their CoolSculpting System left her “permanently deformed.”
Evangelista is seeking $50 million from Zeltiq after enduring “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” from the cosmetic procedure.
“Today I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years,” Evangelista wrote of the lawsuit on social media Wednesday.
“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 added after “undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries,” the 56-year-old model — who appeared in George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” video alongside Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington — has been left, “as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable.'”
The CoolSculpting System works, as Evangelista’s lawsuit states, “by pulling the flesh of the treated area between two paddles and cooling it to below freezing temperatures for a period of thirty minutes or more to kill the fat cells in that area.”
Over the period of August 2015 through February 2016, underwent seven treatments using the Zeltiq CoolSculpting System. In the lawsuit, obtained by Rolling Stone, she notes that she was never warned about Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH), a potential side effect that the lawsuit claims Zeltiq was aware of.
PAH, the lawsuit says, is “a known serious adverse effect where the targeted fat cells increase in number and size (and actually grow larger)… and form hard, bulging masses under the skin.”
“PAH is the very opposite of the fat loss results that Zeltiq represents, promises, and warrants with its CoolSculpting System,” the lawsuit notes.
After being diagnosed with PAH, Evangelista claims she approached Zeltiq about the issue, and the company scheduled and offered to pay for “corrective” surgery to remove the areas impacted by PAH. However, on the eve of the July 2016 procedure, Evangelista says Zeltiq demanded that she sign a non-disclosure agreement or they wouldn’t pay for the surgery. She declined to sign the NDA and was forced to pay for the corrective surgery, “performed by Zeltiq’s Preferred Doctor,” herself.
“The ‘corrective’ surgery performed by Zeltiq’s Preferred Doctor was unsuccessful and the fatty hyperplasia returned to the areas where the CoolSculpting System was applied to Ms. Evangelista,” the lawsuit says. A second corrective surgery, which she underwent in July 2017, was also unsuccessful.
“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,” Evangelista wrote on social media. “In the process, I have become a recluse.”
In a statement released Friday, Evangelista’s lawyer Daniel Markham said the model filed a products liability lawsuit against Zeltiq due to the “grievous injuries” Evangelista suffered from the CoolSculpting System.
“By doing so, Ms. Evangelista is standing up not only for herself but for others who have been similarly injured and ignored by Zeltiq,” Markham said.
“It is telling that Zeltiq disclosed the risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (“PAH”) to its investors in its SEC filings years before disclosing that risk in any of its aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing material,” citing a 2012 document to investors. “Remarkably, Zeltiq’s marketing material and the CoolSculpting website failed to mention the risk of PAH until after Ms. Evangelista underwent the procedures. Zeltiq failed to even include any general warning on CoolSculpting’s main homepage until February 2019.”
A representative for Zeltiq Aesthetics did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment at press time.