What went wrong for Linda Evangelista?
Evangelista says she developed PAH (paradoxical adipose hyperplasia) a condition that, it is estimated, occurs every 1 per 4000 cycles – roughly .05 per cent – and causes the opposite effect whereby fat cells increase rather than decrease.
Wilson says this is often under-reported, because people just assume the procedure didn’t work, though some reports suggest the fat may protrude. “No one understands why we observe this rare complication. We think it could be inflammation, but that’s unproven. We know it’s not cancerous, but a lot more research needs to be done.”
The condition is for reasons unknown, more common in men, though Wilson did treat a female patient who experienced PAH in her neck. “It was a soft mass, it looked like a bulge, like ordinary fat. We were able to treat it with liposuction [a far more invasive fat removal procedure] which is what would have been the better tool to use in the first place.”
Are there other risks?
According to the CoolSculpting website, side effects include bruising and swelling, tenderness, cramping and aching, skin sensitivity, tingling and numbness. In fact, numbness can persist up to several weeks after a treatment.
The biggest problem with CoolSculpting, says Wilson, is that it’s not being used the way it should be. “People don’t want to hear this, because they want a fast solution [to fat loss] but there is really only a small target demographic for this procedure.
“It should not be offered to anyone with a BMI of over 30 because it won’t work the way it’s supposed to. It’s only if you have a small amount of stubborn fat or a minor bulge you can’t get rid of.”
Wilson adds that a patient also needs to have really good skin elasticity “because if you’re removing fat, you need the skin to be able to recover around where the fat used to be.”
Dr Dan Kennedy, president of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends consulting a specialist plastic surgeon for an expert assessment to discuss the full range of treatment options before considering cryolipolysis.
Kennedy says patients should also be well aware of their expectations and motivations before any treatment. “And ensure your medical practitioner details the risks and benefits to you even for non-invasive treatment.”
Since going public, Evangelista has been widely praised for her honesty. Fellow supermodel Paulina Porizkova took to her Instagram to compare Linda’s failed treatment to an athlete’s injury, before concluding, “As long as us women are told, from the time they are little girls, that their looks are the most valuable part of them, how do you expect them NOT to care?”
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