Linda Evangelista is speaking candidly about why she has stepped away from the public eye in recent years.
On Wednesday, the 56-year-old supermodel shared in a post on Instagram that she underwent a CoolSculpting fat-reduction procedure five years ago that she says left her "permanently deformed." She has now filed a lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics — the parent company of CoolSculpting.
Representatives for Zeltiq did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Captioning her post with the hashtags, "#TheTruth" and "#MyStory," Evangelista begins her statement, writing, "Today I took a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years."
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"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," she continues in the post.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic Linda Evangelista in 2015
Evangelista also writes in the post that the procedure allegedly "increased, not decreased" her fat cells, allegedly causing her to be "permanently deformed even after two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries."
The supermodel says she's "been left, as the media has described, 'unrecognizable.'"
Evangelista then says that she has since "developed Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia or PAH" — is "a very rare but serious side effect" where the targeted fat cells in the treatment site grow bigger instead of becoming smaller. The website adds that it is more common in men, according to Healthline. The model says she was not made aware of this "risk" ahead of her procedure.
"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," Evangelista continues.
"In the process, I have become a recluse," Evangelista — who was one of the most sought-after supermodels of the 1990s — adds.
Closing her post, the Canada native shares her plans to take legal action, writing: "With this lawsuit, I am moving forward to rid myself of my shame, and going public with my story. I am so tired of living this way. I would like to walk out my door with my head high, despite not looking like myself any longer."
In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the lawsuit states that Evangelista has suffered "severe and permanent personal injuries and disfigurement" causing her "pain and suffering, severe emotional distress and mental anguish."
The lawsuit also states that as a result of the alleged "disfigurement" the supermodel has experienced "economic losses" due to being "being rendered unemployable and unable to earn an income as a model."
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The comment section of Evangelista's post has since been filled with well wishes.
"YOU ARE AND ALWAYS WILL BE A SUPERMODEL NOW ADDING SUPER ROLE MODEL OF COURAGE TO YOUR GLORIOUS RESUME. I LOVE YOU ❤️," wrote Moschino fashion designer Jeremy Scott.
Fellow fashion designer Brandon Maxwell said that he was "so sorry you have had to endure something so painful," continuing, "As someone who idolized you growing up, and still does to this day, I have always recognized you as someone who was physically beautiful, yes, but more importantly you really shone bright from within."
Added January Jones: "Love that you're reclaiming your story. This strength and bravery supersedes any superficial outward appearance. An icon is an icon is an icon. Always❤️."