In what could be the biggest lawsuit of her life, the 49-year-old model is suing the Skin Management & Applied Cosmetics Corporation, which she says left her with ‘large wounds on her head and neck’
Linda Evangelista is suing a cosmetic clinic for $46m (£35m) saying she was left with “large wounds on her head and neck” after plastic surgery to sculpt her head.
In a lawsuit filed in New York on 3 June, the 49-year-old is accusing the Skin Management & Applied Cosmetics Corporation, based in Melville, New York, of malpractice and negligence after she received the work called CoolSculpting at its clinic in 2007.
At the time of the surgery, Evangelista, who was eight months pregnant with her son Augustin, had an agreement with the clinic, which her lawyer confirmed to the New York Times.
According to court papers, Evangelista was administered a liquid numbing substance. After she entered the operating room, the doctor told her that there would be no cutting and she would not need anesthetic. “He assured her she would feel nothing,” the suit alleges.
What is CoolSculpting?
The procedure claims to kill plaque cells with radiofrequency and heat, causing them to decompose. A small incision is made on the forehead, hairline and neck to expose these bacteria-bearing cells.
The process promises to shed seven to 12kg of fat by year’s end, but also gives the clinic its name.
Why sue the clinic?
Evangelista argues that by using the cold power of the radiofrequency to kill plaque cells, the silicone that could have been put in place to protect her “became extraordinarily caustic”.
One of the wounds bore a distinctive scar, which “surely created extreme pain, permanent scarring, a marked appearance on her head and loss of beauty, economic vitality and psychic well-being”, her lawsuit states.
What happens to the food and water she drank as a result?
The excess heat and suction of the process is meant to kill an entire cell but can “produce microscopic bubbles and microscopic rocks which are transferred into the liquid in plastic food containers to kill the bacteria,” Dr Stephen J Cooper explained to the New York Times.
During her pregnancy, according to documents, the clinic failed to distribute a liquid used to preserve the effects of the surgery. Because of the risk to the baby, she allegedly had her husband and nurses make sure she took only water to avoid “infection and allowing bacteria to grow”.
The lawsuit claims that because she used water to avoid infection and allowing bacteria to grow, her baby was exposed to the same heat and suction.
How did she feel afterwards?
Evangelista says the procedure left her with “severe pain, heat, caustic wounds, itching, swelling and scarring”. She suffered “minor destruction to her genital tract and injuries to her voice box, vocal cords and larynx”, it states.
How did it affect her self-esteem?
Evangelista’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz tweeted that her right nipple was “battered to the point of either coming loose or disintegrating completely”.
While her health problems were eventually written off to conditions arising from pregnancy, her scars were reportedly visible while she was pregnant. “My arm was size 15, I am 6ft, and for a time, people thought I had a bomb on my arm,” she said.
Does this happen all the time?
According to court documents, CoolSculpting is used by 10,000 practitioners and their clients and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Photograph: Jeffrey Webster/WireImage
Since 2009, insurance policies have offered incentives for doctors who will do cosmetic procedures, including CoolSculpting. Over 95 million plans in the US have CoolSculpting coverage.
CoolSculpting contains only five ingredients: thyroid hormone, alpha hydroxy vitamin E, glycolic acid, glycolic acid and Pantinis anti-bacterial.
In May last year, a Texas family filed a lawsuit against a similar laser-based procedure firm after a girl aged 12 died during one treatment in 2014.