1990s supermodel Linda Evangelista filed a $50 million lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics, claiming she underwent Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure that left her “brutally disfigured”. She says she suffers from paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). The condition leads to swelling after the procedure. She received treatment between 2015 to 2016 for her “thighs, abdomen, back, flanks, and chin.” The model received two corrective surgeries to no avail.
I understand why people would want to go through procedures for the promise of beauty, perfection, or to turn back the clock. But what happened to Linda Evangelista reminded me that perfect can be the enemy of good. In our quest to strive to be better or the best, there’s the risk of losing, a lot.
There’s nothing wrong with exploring and wanting improvement. It’s not a sign of ingratitude, but a part of the human spirit and progress. But society seems to forget function and purpose when defining the ideal body. Let me explain.
Noses and Sweat Glands
In February, a Chinese actress had a nose surgery. The procedure left the tip of her nose tissues dead. The dead tissues turned the tip of her nose black. She now has a crooked nose and has a missing cartilage. The cartilage had to be removed to save the rest of her nose. Doctors told her that she will never fully recover.
Why do we limit the beauty of the nose to how it looks and forget all that it does for us? The nose lets us breathe fully. It filters the air…Isn’t that the metric we should use for a beautiful nose?
A fitness influencer from Mexico, Odalis Santos Mena, died of cardiac arrest while being anesthetized for a surgery to treat underarm sweating. What made her want to eliminate a bodily function, that cools our body so we can move?
Balance and Gratitude
I’m sure that there are plenty of people happy with their cosmetic procedures. And there are cases when you don’t have to sacrifice function and purpose for looks.
I guess the lesson here is to balance gratitude for what we have, and what parts of our lives we want to improve. In making this decision about our bodies and what we want to change, we need to take into account what each part of our body does to keep us healthy and living. And to ask ourselves what procedures we are willing to put our bodies through and all the risk that entails, to convince our minds that what we have is enough for us.
For a lot of people, it’s not easy to admit publicly what we have done for beauty. Even more crushing, the possible judgement that might follow. So far, on social media, Linda Evangelista’s courage to come out with her story has garnered support. I hope this will also elevate the conversation to body appreciation without relying on what society thinks looks pretty.
The More You Know
The FDA approved nonsurgical procedure, cryolipolysis aka CoolSculpting, selectively destructs adipose tissues. As a result, it leads to a “decrease in fat layer thickness”. Paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) happens when after the procedure, a person experiences a “delayed increase in adipose tissue” in the places where they receive treatment. JAMA Dermatology (The Journal of the American Medical Association), published a paper in 2014 of a 41-year-old man who got PAH, considered a rare side effect with a 0.0051% incidence.
Cryolipolysis work by selectively destroying fat-rich cells by freezing them. Since adipose tissues have more fats-rich cells, they succumb more to cryoinjury (injuring them by freezing temps). Adipose tissue is usually located beneath the skin, a location which this procedure targets. But we also have it around internal organs for protection.