Shapewear garments have been popular for years as a way to give people a slimmer look under clothes. Made popular by celebrities on the red carpet, shapewear garments are widely used by women, although they do make men’s versions too. Health experts say that occasional use for special events may be fine, but regular use could harm several areas of the body.
Regular use of shapewear garments can result in the following health problems:
Much like waist training corsets, shapewear compresses your internal organs, including the stomach, intestines, and colon. If you are prone to acid reflux and heartburn, this could make it worse. As the stomach is compressed, it can force stomach acid up into the esophagus, resulting in acid reflux or heartburn.
When the intestines and stomach are compressed by shapewear garments, it can also affect the digestive process. This can lead to abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas. If you’re eating a meal, it’s probably best to avoid shapewear garments.
Shapewear compresses the abdomen and bowels, increasing the chances of incontinence. For this reason, shapewear garments are especially risky for those who already have incontinence issues or a condition like irritable bowel syndrome. The tightness of shapewear also makes some people avoid using the restroom as often as they need to because the garments are difficult to get into and out of. This can lead to stress incontinence from the continued pressure on the bladder caused by the garment, or it could exacerbate the issue for someone who is already prone to these problems.
Shapewear garments can also compress the chest, preventing the diaphragm from fully expanding while breathing. This leads to shallow breathing, which can make a person feel lightheaded after a period of time.
Shapewear garments can dig into the waist and compress nerves. One nerve in particular, the peripheral nerve in the thigh, can cause you to develop tingling, numbness, or pain in your leg. This condition is called meralgia paresthetica. The symptoms of meralgia paresthetica can come and go while you are wearing shapewear garments or may be constant. Fortunately, meralgia paresthetica is reversible if you give up wearing tight garments like Spanx.
The compression from shapewear garments can also decrease your blood circulation, which could potentially lead to blood clots, varicose veins, or lymph congestion, which could cause swelling in the ankles. If you are prone to any of these problems already, it’s probably best to skip the shapewear.
Shapewear traps moisture, which can be problematic, especially if you tend to sweat a lot. Trapped moisture can lead to all sorts of infections, including bacterial infections, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. If bacteria gets trapped in hair follicles, it can lead to folliculitis. Though these conditions are treatable, they are very unpleasant to deal with.
Sure, you probably won’t experience any of these problems if you only wear shapewear on special occasions, but is the discomfort and risk of health problems really worth it just to look a little slimmer? Probably not.
If you do wear these garments on a regular basis, however, you really should stop.