"Shapewear" makes you look shapely. Allegedly. It definitely makes you feel shapely, because it squeezes the bejeezus out of your vital organs. Science now says that this pressure is potentially hazardous to your health. But hey, you'll leave a svelte-looking corpse, right?
In its never-ending quest to be the New York Times of searchable service journalism, HuffPo talked to some medical specialists to see how the popular Spanx line of women's (and, just recently, men's!) compression clothing wrecks your bodily functions. Here's a list of the potential maladies that could spank you:
- Erosive esophagitis: The clothing's tightness "leaves your stomach, intestine and colon compressed, which Dr. Kuemmerle says can worsen acid reflux and heartburn." That can lead to erosion, and who knows? Maybe even Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer!
- Breathing problems: "When you inhale, your diaphragm expands and your abdomen flares out, Dr. Erickson says, but shapewear restricts this movement and decreases the excursion in respiration."
- Digestive difficulties: "The intestines are supposed to contract and move food along, but when they're compressed over a long period of time, the flow of digestion is stifled."
- Pooping and peeing yourself: "In someone who has weakness down below and a tendency towards incontinence... increasing intra-abdominal pressure can certainly provoke episodes of incontinence."
- Nerve pain: "Sitting in shapewear can lead to a reversible condition called meralgia paresthetica, which is when the peripheral nerve in your thigh is compressed. This leads to tingling, numbness and pain in your legs, all of which can come and go or become constant."
- Circulatory disorders: "This rubber band effect can also decrease your circulation and lead to blood clots."
- Pus-filled infections: "Shapewear is occlusive, meaning it traps moisture and anything else under it, which predisposes shapewear wearers to both yeast and bacterial infections. Dr. Mikhail says that the most common infection she sees is folliculitis, since bacteria often gets trapped among hair follicles and causes red puss-filled [sic] bumps."
Good God, sounds awful. Who would wear this stuff? The physicians HuffPo consulted, apparently: "Everyone I know owns shapewear—it's kind of a miracle," says one. It's just not every-day wear, the doctors say. Quick, ask them what brand of cigarette they think tastes best!