"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. "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. 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 has described, 'unrecognizable.'"
CoolSculpting, a popular noninvasive procedure performed in doctors' offices and med spas, works by pulling body tissue in the treatment area into the machine to expose the tissue to extremely cold temperatures, causing the fat cells to freeze. Over the next two to three months, those cells "die" and are absorbed by the body's lymphatic system, resulting in up to a 25% reduction of fat. According to the CoolSculpting website, post-treatment side effects include "temporary redness, swelling, blanching, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging, tenderness, cramping, aching, itching, or skin sensitivity, and sensation of fullness in the back of the throat after submental or submandibular area treatment."
The condition Evangelista went on to describe in her post is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH), a rare adverse reaction developed by 0.05% to 0.39% of CoolSculpting patients first recorded in 2014, four years after the procedure was cleared by the FDA. Evangelista said that she was not made aware of the risk of PAH, which occurs when the freezing of the fat cells triggers a reactionary event causing them to thicken rather than break down as intended, and detailed how the resulting damage has affected her mental health.
"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," she wrote. "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." Refinery29 has reached out to CoolSculpting for comment and will update this post when we hear back.