Supermodel Linda Evangelista has broken her silence about a cosmetic surgery nightmare that had her living “in seclusion” for nearly five years.

In a People cover story, Evangelista explains, “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’m willing to finally speak.”

The 56-year-old had gone under a non-invasive procedure called CoolSculpting, which uses paddles to freeze fat cells under the skin. The super-cold temperatures are supposed to cause fat cells to shrink. 

However, Evangelista suffered an apparently rare side-effect that left her “brutally disfigured,” and “permanently deformed,” she said.

She explains that within three months of the procedure, the fat in the areas she tried to shrink — under her chin, her thighs, and under her arms — began to swell and go numb. 

“I tried to fix it myself, thinking I was doing something wrong,” she confesses. “I got to where I wasn’t eating at all. I thought I was losing my mind.”

She explains she saw a doctor in 2016 and was diagnosed with Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, or PAH — “And he told me no amount of dieting, and no amount of exercise was ever going to fix it,” says Evangelista.

Dr. Alan Matarasso, a New York City cosmetic surgeon not involved in Evangelista’s care, tells People, “Patients go in to have something reduced, and now it’s enlarged. And the problem…is that, in some instances, it may not go away…”

For its part, CoolSculpting insisted to the magazine that its FDA-cleared treatment “has been well studied with more than 100 scientific publications and more than 11 million treatments performed worldwide,” and that rare side-effects like PAH are documented in its patient information.

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