Linda Evangelista has not been on the red carpet for seven years. Her last posing portraits are from a perfume party in New York in June 2015. After that, the paparazzi they hunted it on only one occasion: in September 2017, also in New York. And there is nothing else: no galas or parties, not even weddings or funerals. And this draws attention, since the 56-year-old model was, in the 1990s, one of the greatest exponents of the concept of top model alongside Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Elle McPherson. With the difference that all these women of her generation are still working today and with great exposure in the media. Evangelista paraded for the biggest in the business, posed for the best photographers and starred on the covers of hundreds of fashion magazines. However, a few years ago, she disappeared.
Gone until now. The Canadian openly told in a long text on her Instagram profile, to her more than 900,000 followers, that a problem with an aesthetic treatment took her away from public life. According to her, the procedure left her “completely deformed” and also, according to her version, incapable of continuing to exercise her profession. “Today I am taking a big step towards correcting a damage that I suffered and that I kept with me for five years,” Evangelista writes in his letter. “For all my followers, who wonder why I didn’t work while my colleagues’ careers were at their peak, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by the procedure. CoolSculpting from Zeltiq, who did the opposite of what he promised. It increased, not decreased, my fat cells and permanently deformed me, even after undergoing two very painful and unsuccessful corrective surgeries. They left my body, as the press described it, “unrecognizable”, the model guarantees, referring to a treatment widely used in many aesthetic centers where fat is usually removed in a similar way to liposuction, but without invasive surgery.
The procedure makes use of cryolipolysis, that is, it uses temperatures below zero and applies them to fat cells to eliminate them, both in the body and in areas of the face such as the neck. It takes several sessions and its effects are usually noticed within a few weeks, according to Dr. Paula Rosso, specialist in Aesthetic Medicine at the Lajo Plaza Medical Center in Madrid. “It’s an expensive treatment, the price of the session can exceed a thousand euros [6.200 reais] and several of them are needed. The price of one of these machines can exceed 100,000 euros.”
The model claims that the procedure made her sick. “I developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, or PAH [na sigla em inglês], a risk I was not warned about before undergoing the procedure,” he says. This disease can develop after cryolipolysis. In fact, in 2018 the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons warned that this could be a “rare” complication after treatment, and that, in this case, there would be “a painless mass, wider, firmer and well defined”. Although the manufacturer estimated that this hyperplasia would only occur in 1 in 4,000 treatments, according to US surgeons, it appears in 0.72% of cases, in approximately 1 in 138 sessions. At the time, it was claimed that the disease could be treated with liposuction or possibly an abdominoplasty months after treatment. But, it seems, with Evangelista it didn’t work.
“The PAH not only destroyed my way of earning a living, it made me fall into deep depression, deep sadness and the depths of self-loathing,” Evangelista said. “In this process, I became a hermit. With this text, I take a step forward to free myself from shame and make my story public. I’m so tired of living like this. I would love to walk out the door with my head held high, even if I don’t look like myself anymore.”
Physician Mar Mira, co-director of the Mira+Cueto clinic in Madrid, explains that this technique “requires an individual response from the patient, as it is not a surgical procedure of liposuction that clearly removes the fat cells. Therefore, not everyone has the same results, not the same in the same area”, and he also observes that “the application technique is very important, as is the mapping of the areas to be treated”, and thus, all of this “impacts in a good or bad result”. “All this is a cocktail of variables that, if not well controlled, can lead to a bad result”, he says.
For dr. Rosso, this is a procedure that — although she does not use, among other things because of its high price and “because you can’t get such a fantastic result” — “provides a lot of peace of mind because it has FDA approval”, the US drug agency . “The case of Evangelista would be one of the exceptions, one of the rare cases. Instead of treating it with the same technology, it’s solved with liposuction, but it probably wasn’t a good solution in her case. You have to see how they treated her again; the times in question are not detailed and, for this surgery, it is necessary to wait at least four or six months.”
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The doctor recognizes that information about the model’s aesthetic problem has been appearing since the first hour in several groups of doctors in the sector, and believes that it will affect the powerful Allergan laboratory (which bought Zeltiq’s aesthetics branch) in a very negative way. manufacturer, both in sales and in public opinion. She does not rule out the possibility of a trial or an out-of-court settlement that favors Evangelista. “After the surgery, she had a permanent deformity; in this way, you can process and win calmly”, he says. In addition, the doctor says that this treatment is usually performed mainly in women between 30 and 50 years old who seek to remove some localized fat, and that this tends to be a group that comes to the consultation well-informed. So, in this case, you can make them back off from paying a large sum for such therapy. EL PAÍS has contacted Allergan, but has not received a response so far.
The panorama of the fashion industry today would be unrecognizable against the backdrop of the 1990s, when Linda Evangelista triumphed. Social advances have made it possible to find many professionals of advanced ages, non-binary gender and different models. This is the case of big names in the sector such as Paloma Elsesser or Precious Lee, models that are proud of their weight and with a relevant presence and solid reputation in the sector. In this sense, in the last full season in which the models paraded without restrictions because of the pandemic (fall-winter 2020/21), 16 of them were labeled as “plus size” and paraded to 19 companies, according to the Tag-Walk data analysis platform. Women who were previously practically banned from the images of luxury brands and are now part of this universe and nothing prevents them from working on it.
In 2017, luxury giants LVMH and Kering signed an agreement to alleviate the industry’s endemic problem with draconian weightings on models. Among other things, this agreement established that all companies belonging to these two holdings they would commit “to work only with models who present valid medical certificates, provided by the agencies and obtained in less than six months before the fashion show shoot”, and also that they would prohibit “size 32 for women and 42 for men”.
Models with completely normative (and skinny) bodies like Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid were told just a decade ago that they were too fat to participate in certain shows.
The model’s statement on her Instagram account on Thursday (23) earned her the affection of friends and acquaintances, and many colleagues in the profession. Her friend and colleague Christy Turlington said, “We love you so much.” Carolyn Murphy said: “You are a huge icon, an eternal beauty from the inside out. We are all here to support you and love you”. “Sweet Linda,” wrote Karen Elson, “I love you, you’re brave and wonderful.” Naomi Campbell cheered her up: “I applaud you for your bravery and your strength. For sharing your experience and not being held hostage. Know that I love you. We love you and we are here to help you, always by your side. I can’t imagine the mental pain you’ve had to go through these five years. You are already free. Remember who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and your influence on the lives of everyone you’ve touched, something you continue to do as you share your story. I’m proud of you and I support you every step of the way.”
In these years, Evangelista disappeared from the fashion world and even from the social chronicle. His latest information dates back to 2012, when he managed to get businessman François Henri Pinault, husband of Salma Hayek, to pay the couple’s child support. But in recent years, there have been no images or information. It was only ‘non-news’ news, as it did not appear in Donatella Versace’s tribute to the great top models (with Carla Bruni, Claudia Shiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Helena Christensen) in September 2017. In fact, she doesn’t even post photos on her social media. His last portraits, infrequent, are from the summer of 2019.
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