Ahh, Spanx. What woman hasn’t relied on those babies to help smooth out those few unsightly bumps and bulges under her slinkiest cocktail dress?
We love the streamlining shapewear and sing its praises often, but now experts are coming forward and totally ruining the appeal for us. We know Spanx and similar undergarments can temporarily lead to poor blood circulation, but we didn’t realize we were actually subjecting our internal organs to an unnatural amount of compression and squeezing, not unlike the girdles and corsets we criticize our great-grandmothers for having worn back in the day.
Okay, maybe we aren’t breaking our rib cages and passing out, but the uncomfortably tight base layers can lead to excessive stomach, intestine and colon compression, which can in turn lead to erosive esophagitis, and worsen acid reflux and heartburn, according to gastroenterologist Dr. John Kuemmerle.
Additionally the compression can mess up the flow of your digestive tract and cause uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas. And for those who already have irritable bowel syndrome or functional bowel disorder, regular use of shapewear can wreck havoc. Dr. Kuemmerle explains “In someone who has weakness down below and a tendency towards incontinence, increasing intra-abdominal pressure can certainly provoke episodes of incontinence.”
Chiropractor Dr. Karen Erickson also warns of the troubled, shallow breathing that can occur with shapewear, which restricts the natural movement of the diaphragm and abdomen – two of our respiration system’s key players.
Although all this news is certainly distressing, no one is telling you to toss out your Spanx just yet. Many of these problems can be prevented if you only rely on shapewear for the occasional special event or evening out rather than on a daily basis when you’re sitting in them for hours on end, says Dr. Erickson. She also stresses the importance of picking the right size of shapewear – one that fits you and doesn’t cut in anywhere.
As long as you follow these tips, and avoid these undergarments if and while you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should be okay. But as always, your best bet is to speak to your doctor first if you are unsure about any side effects of shapewear.
Want more on the negative health ramifications of fashion?
Check out this slideshow of some of the most common trendy styles that look great but can cause massive injuries to the wearer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!