Shapewear can be a life saver on special occasions, but wearing it too much can lead to unwanted health problems. If you rely on them as undergarments more than occasionally, find out more about the drawbacks of shapewear and a few expert tips on how to avoid them.
If your shapewear is too tight, you literally won’t be able to breathe in it. You may love the shape of your body in it, but tight shapewear can stop your lungs from expanding and oxygenating your body. In extreme cases, you can even faint and breathing problems can be even more severe in hot temperatures.
Just like bras that are too tight can cut off the proper blood flow, so can shapewear. One of the biggest dangers of shapewear is an elastic band that’s way too tight. The first sign is discomfort, followed by swelling of the legs, but in some cases, dangerous blood clots can form even without these extreme symptoms.
Heartburn is another unfortunate side effect of shapewear that’s too tight against your torso. Acid reflux occurs when the digestive acids from the stomach travel up the esophagus and can lead to serious damage if the condition is ignored.
If you already suffer from acid reflux, avoid the problem area and make sure you don’t wear shapewear that extends all the way up your bra line.
It might not be at the top of the list when it comes to the biggest dangers of shapewear, but bloating and gas are a clear signal that your digestive system, especially your intestines, are suffering from being too consticted by the shapewear.
Aggravated Existing Medical Conditions
Wearing the wrong shapewear or simply keeping it on for too long can cause some medical conditions to worsen quickly. If you’ve already had trouble with heartburn or acid reflux, the restrictive undergarment can cause erosive esophagitis. The condition can progress to an esophageal ulcer which may need complex treatment, including surgery.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is another condition aggravated by tight shapewear and the restricted blood flow to the legs is even more dangerous for women who suffer from diabetes.
One of the biggest dangers of shapewear is linked to postponing urination. Your bladder is already under a lot of pressure because tight Spanx compress your organs, so any delay in using the restroom can lead to leakage.
Increased Risk of Infection
If you have sensitive skin, shapewear can cause a lot of trouble because it traps moisture and keeps it close to the skin. The most common type of infection is folliculitis. It affects hair follicles and causes red bumps. Even if the trapped moisture doesn’t lead to bacterial infection, it can aggravate any fungal infection. In a really hot environment, where you’re prone to sweating, the danger is even bigger.
Even if you’re willing to suffer for fashion, pain is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. One of the biggest dangers of shapewear is linked to the compression of nerves under the tight garments. If you feel any numbness or tingling, don’t let it turn into pain. Ignoring it can lead to meralgia paresthetica, a condition in which a compressed nerve can cause pain intermittently and in the long run.
Lack of Proper Exercise
Muscles suffer when you’re relying on shapewear too much. When you look in the mirror and feel good about how your body looks in shapewear, you’re less likely to work out. Good posture is linked to the condition of your muscles, not shapewear.
Shapewear Safety Tips
The most simple way to avoid the biggest dangers of shapewear is to get the right fit. When you try it on, pay attention to the waist as you sit down. If it moves, you probably need a different, longer leg length. Cross your legs when sitting down to fully test it and always pay attention to comfort. Even if it’s not cutting anywhere, you still shouldn’t wear it very often, especially for a lot of hours at a time.
"The general rules of thumb for me with shapewear is to wear it for just a couple or a few hours in a row to look good at the event but then get it off as soon as you can and let the other regions of your body begin to breathe," according to Dr. Oz.