Millions of people wear shapewear to enhance the fit of their clothes. There are a variety of options for body shapers, including tummy shapers, long-leg underwear to reshape hips and thighs, and special bras to smooth your upper body. These garments are made of tight but stretchy materials. They provide support and a smoothing effect when worn under clothing. While they have a fashion benefit, there are some questions about how they affect your health.
Is shapewear safe?
Modern shapewear isn’t as damaging to soft tissue and organs as old-fashioned corsets were. The materials in shapers are flexible and let some air pass through. Your body can return to its natural state as soon as you take the garment off at the end of the day.
Experts still suggest using moderation when it comes to wearing these tight undergarments. Some suggest only wearing it for special occasions and not every day. There are some health risks from clothing that constricts your body. If you notice any discomfort from your shapewear, you should stop wearing it. You can also lessen problems by choosing a different style or size.
Health issues from shapewear
Wearing very tight-fitting shapewear every day puts you at risk for some health issues. If your shapewear is too tight or ill-fitting, your risk of problems increases. You should select shapewear that fits you well to avoid certain issues.
Because shapewear is right up against your skin, there is a risk of skin irritation. The tight fabrics can trap moisture near your skin and cause chafing and irritation. Any injury to your skin comes with a risk of infection.
If your shapewear irritates your skin, you should stop wearing it until the irritation heals. Take care of the injury by keeping it clean and dry to prevent infection. You may need a different brand or size of shapewear before you start wearing it again.
In rare cases, people have allergic reactions to the materials of shapewear. You might develop a rash or hives where the fabric touches you. If this happens, you should stop wearing the garment. Look for shapewear in a different fabric to avoid allergic reactions.
Genital health issues
Shapers that go over your genital area are often very snug and trap moisture around the vulva. This may increase your risk of developing yeast infections. Yeast infections can develop in the vagina or on the surrounding skin.
If your shaper is hard to put on and take off, you might delay going to the restroom. Holding urine raises your risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). You should always go to the bathroom when you need to and empty your bladder completely.
To reduce the risk of yeast infections and UTIs, choose shapewear with a cotton crotch panel to allow better airflow around sensitive skin. You should also choose shapers that you can easily remove to go to the restroom.
If you wear tight-fitting shapers around your belly, you may find that you get an upset stomach. The tight fabric can compress your abdomen and reduce the amount of space your internal organs have between them. This can slow down your digestive process. You may feel gassy and bloated as a result.
Some people find that a tight belly shaper or waist trainer causes acid reflux. If your stomach can’t empty normally, the stomach acids can be pushed up into your esophagus. The short-term result of that is heartburn and indigestion. If you have chronic reflux, you may damage your esophagus.
If you find that shapewear makes you feel bloated and gassy after meals, try changing clothes as soon as possible after eating. That will give your digestive tract room to work. You can also try buying a less constricting belly shaper.
If you wear poorly fitting or too-tight shapers, you could compress blood vessels. This is a dangerous problem. Reducing the ability of your blood to circulate can lead to blood clots, especially if you have underlying conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
Symptoms of poor circulation include:
- Numbness and tingling in hands or feet
- Skin color changes, such as a pale or mottled appearance
- Dizziness, mental fog, or confusion
- Pain while walking
If you notice any of those symptoms while wearing shapewear, take off the garment. If the symptoms don’t improve, call your doctor.
Sometimes, shapewear can compress nerves. When that happens, you might notice numbness or tingling in the area around the shaper. You can adjust how the elastic sits on your skin and see if the feeling goes away. You can also try wearing a different size or cut of shaper. If removing the shaper doesn't stop the symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Concierge Spine Surgery: "COULD YOUR SHAPEWEAR AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?"
Harvard Health Publishing: "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)."
The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration: "SHAPEWEAR AFFECTS OVERALL HEALTH."
University of Florida Health: "Long-term use of shapewear linked to health problems."
University of Miami Health News: "Circulatory Problems: Pay Attention to the Symptoms."
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