LINDA Evangelista has spent years out of the spotlight after she was “brutally disfigured” by a botched plastic surgery.
The 56-year-old recently opened up in a rare interview about her life after the procedure.
While speaking to PEOPLE, Linda shared the first photos of herself since undergoing a nightmare cosmetic surgery five years ago.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Linda worked as a top supermodel and posed for the covers of numerous magazines.
Linda served as a trailblazer in the world of fashion and even influenced fans to don her short hairstyle, which was dubbed as “The Linda.”
Following a successful modeling career, Linda retired in 1998 before eventually returning to work three years later to model sporadically.
Linda was married to the head of Elite Model Management Gérald Marie from 1987 until 1993, while she also engaged actor Kyle MacLachlan from 1995-1998.
She went on to have a relationship with French athlete Fabien Barthez, who she dated on and off until 2002.
Then in October 2006, Linda gave birth to her only child, Augustin James.
Linda initially refused to announce the identity of her father’s son, though later revealed in court documents that her son’s father is billionaire Frenchman François-Henri Pinault, 59.
The businessman went on to marry actress Salma Hayek, 55, in 2009.
The co-parents caught media attention for their highly publicized child support court battle, which resulted in a settlement out of court in 2012.
Since retiring from modeling, Linda has tried to keep a low profile.
ABSENCE FROM HOLLYWOOD
The 90s icon blamed her “reclusive” behavior on the fat-reducing procedure that left her “disfigured.”
Linda revealed she had undergone CoolSculpting in an attempt to “decrease” her fat cells – but it ended up “increasing” fat production instead.
She then explained her plans to take legal action after developing paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, a rare side effect of cryolipolysis.
The adverse effect has been reported in only 0.0051% of the 1.5 million CoolSculpting procedures that have been performed worldwide.
“Today I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself over five years,” Linda wrote in a statement.
“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.
“It did the opposite of what it promised. 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,'” Linda added, explaining that she wasn’t properly warned of the potential side effects.
“I have developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia or PAH, a risk of which I was not made aware before I had the procedures,” the model continued.
“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.
“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 head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer.”
Body sculpting involves using a device set to below freezing temperatures which is applied to fat deposits to kill the fat cells and tissue.
While the increased fat deposits aren’t harmful, they also don’t go away on their own over time and will require further surgery to remove.
LIFE IN HIDING
Linda further opened up about the experience while talking to PEOPLE this week.
She told the outlet: “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.”
Linda said she noticed bulges near her chin, thighs and bra area following the procedure, which she claimed she tried to “fix” herself by dieting and exercising.
She said: “I got to where I wasn’t eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind.”
The model eventually visited a doctor in June 2016, recalling: “I was bawling, and I said, ‘I haven’t eaten, I’m starving. What am I doing wrong?'”
She then learned she was diagnosed with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, stating: “I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ And he told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it.”
Linda claimed that when her doctor contacted CoolSculpting about her PAH, the company said they wanted to “make it right” by offering to pay for liposuction to correct the damage.
In her lawsuit, the model said she was informed that the company would only pay for the procedure if she signed a confidentiality agreement.
She refused and paid for the first of two full-body liposuction surgeries, which she had done in June 2016.
Linda claimed the liposuction procedures didn’t have lasting effects, stating: “It wasn’t even a little bit better.
“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.”
She added that her posture has been impacted and she can no longer “put my arms flat along my side.”
Now that the damage has been done, Linda has insisted the lawsuit will act as a way for her to heal emotionally.
She said: “Why do we feel the need to do these things [to our bodies]? I always knew I would age. And I know that there are things a body goes through. But I just didn’t think I would look like this.
“I don’t recognize myself physically, but I don’t recognize me as a person any longer either.”
Linda concluded: “I’m not going to hide anymore.”