If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Spanx must probably come in a close second. It’s like God finally heard the cries of extra curvy women all over the world and decided to send a gift that would instantly make their curves fall in the right places without the need for diet or exercise. Can no longer fit in your little black dress? Wear Spanx. Want to get rid of those unsightly bulges at once? Behold, the Spanx.
While many women absolutely adore and rely on these shapewear items to make their bodies look and feel good, it seems like it’s not the perfect heaven-sent gift after all. According to several medical specialists interviewed by the Huffington Post, wearing shapewear has its drawbacks, and it’s not just the feeling of nausea that you get when you wear these constricting garments for a long time.
Before you buy a new set of Spanx for that wedding you’re going to attend next month, take note first of the following ways that shapewear, like Spanx, can actually damage your health.
13 Organ Compression
Almost all the health problems associated with shapewear can be traced back to one main problem: organ compression. Shapewear won’t work if it isn’t tight. Unfortunately, the tightness not only squeezes your fats, but also packs pressure on various abdominal organs like your stomach, small intestine, and colon.
No matter what type of shapewear you use, it compresses the nerves and organs where it is placed. For instance, if you’re using Spanx leggings, even the nerves of your legs will be affected, even though there’s no vital organ located there.
However, doctors say that wearing shapewear from time to time won’t damage your nerves and organs. It’s when you wear it on a day-in, day-out basis that it becomes problematic.
12 Erosive Esophagitis
Your esophagus serves as the passageway for food from your mouth to your stomach. When you put too much pressure on your stomach, there is a possibility that the food inside may go back to the esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn. In fact, it’s not uncommon for women to complain of frequent heartburn when they’re wearing shapewear.
But what’s really alarming in such situations is the fact that acid reflux can cause erosive esophagitis, which is the medical term for a severe injury to the esophagus caused by acid erosion. The food inside the stomach is mixed with digestive juices, so the acid can certainly damage the lining of the esophagus. This might even lead to esophageal cancer in the long run.
11 Digestive Discomfort
When shapewear compresses your stomach, it doesn’t just cause food to go back to the esophagus. Even the natural movement of these digested foods into the intestines and colon is affected. Food cannot easily pass through the digestive organs because the tightness of the shapewear constricts these organs, making them unable to accommodate large volumes of food.
Imagine how you would usually unbuckle your jeans after eating a huge meal. You cannot do that when you’re wearing Spanx, and this causes a bit of discomfort in your tummy.
Fortunately, the damage is not permanent. However, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and frequent passing of gas.
10 Bowel Disorders
The pressure on your abdomen, specifically your colon, might cause you to have frequent episodes of incontinence, which is the inability to hold your poop. Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, people suffering from bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome should take note of this as it can be a huge source of embarrassment, not to mention a potentially messy affair.
You might find yourself going to the bathroom more than you should, or perhaps staying there for good. Not really great if you’re in the middle of an awesome party, right? It’s literally a party pooper, so better think twice about wearing Spanx.
9 Stress Incontinence
Another abdominal organ that’s affected by shapewear is your urinary bladder, whose primary function is to hold your urine. When shapewear presses on your bladder, it may cause stress incontinence, which causes you to leak urine involuntarily. This can happen not just to people who already have stress incontinence, but also to women who postpone their urge to urinate.
Incidentally, stress incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women, as it frequently happens to moms who had previously delivered a baby vaginally. Who knew that this could also happen when you wear Spanx, even if you’ve never even been pregnant?
8 Meralgia Paresthetica
Shapewear can also put pressure on your nerves, particularly the ones on your thighs. It becomes more pronounced when you sit down because your Spanx leggings become tighter upon sitting, pretty much like how a rubber band feels when you put it around your upper thighs. This condition, known as meralgia paresthetica, leads to tingling, numbing, and pain in the affected legs.
The bad news is, the effects of meralgia paresthetica may eventually become permanent if you frequently use your shapewear. In fact, this condition is also habitually seen among women who are fond of wearing pants and pantyhose stockings that are too tight for their own good.
7 Circulation Problems
Aside from compressing your nerves and organs, shapewear can also squeeze your blood vessels, bringing about circulation problems. Blood cannot freely flow through the constricted vessels in your legs, and this might eventually lead to blood clots.
Blood clots are harmless when they’re really small and confined to the legs, but what if a huge one develops? It can get dislodged and travel to the other blood vessels in your body. At worst cases, it can clog the blood vessels in your heart and brain, leading to heart attack and stroke. It might seem far-fetched, but it’s definitely a possibility.
6 Varicose Veins
Those who are genetically prone to varicose veins can develop them, too, all because of shapewear. Varicose veins are those web-like and enlarged veins that you see on your lower legs usually brought about by frequent standing and walking. It can also cause an achy and heavy feeling in your legs, which worsens after sitting or standing for a long time.
It might seem like a simple cosmetic problem, but severe varicose veins can lead to serious circulatory problems, as blood pools in those areas is unable to go back to the heart. Though varicose veins can be cured through self-care, wearing shapewear might still make it worse.
5 Lymph Congestion
Another problem that shapewear causes is lymph congestion, a condition where in the lymphatic system, responsible for removing cellular wastes from the body, fails to drain properly, hence allowing those toxins to accumulate. It can eventually lead to tonsillitis, recurrent sore throat, and chronically enlarged lymph nodes.
One of the ways that lymph congestion can manifest is through the swelling of your ankles, which can make it painful for you to walk properly and to even fit in your shoes. Again, this problem can be solved by simply elevating your legs against the wall, but why solve it when you can simply avoid wearing Spanx?
4 Decreased Muscle Tone
While shapewear does make you look like you have toned muscles underneath your clothes, doctors remind women that it is not a substitute for exercise. Women tend to use shapewear as a crutch to avoid toning those muscles through exercise, hence leading to decreased muscle tone and poor posture. Some even regard shapewear as similar to a medical back brace when in fact, it’s not therapeutically designed.
So even if you occasionally use shapewear to make your body look good, never forget the importance of exercise. It’s the one real thing that can really sculpt your muscles and make you look good even when you’re naked.
3 Yeast and Bacterial Infections
Since shapewear is so tight and occlusive, it traps sweat and moisture inside, hence predisposing you to develop yeast and bacterial infections that thrive in moist regions of your body. The most common infection that women wearing shapewear experience is folliculitis, which affects the hair follicles and causes red, pus-filled bumps to develop. Diabetic and overweight women are more prone to develop infections, as well as those who sweat excessively.
Even though bacterial infections can be easily treated with antibiotic creams, having recurrent infections might make you resistant to low-grade antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat your subsequent infections.
2 Breathing Problems
All the ways that shapewear can damage your health are scary, but perhaps the scariest one is its effect on your lungs and diaphragm. Again, it goes back to the fact that shapewear compresses your organs, including these two vital ones necessary for breathing.
Shapewear restricts the normal movement of your diaphragm during inhalation and exhalation, thus making you breathing fast and decreasing the air that goes in and out of your lungs. Without enough oxygen circulating in the body, how can your organs perform their functions? It might also make you feel nauseous, which might eventually cause you to faint and lose consciousness.
1 Panic Attacks
Because you can’t breathe properly when wearing Spanx, it might lead you to feel like air is thinning all around you. Thus, you have a tendency to breathe in a shallow manner and eventually hyperventilate, like you’re gasping for air.
Those suffering from anxiety are better off not wearing shapewear, since the perceived lack of air can also trigger your panic attacks, making you feel sweaty and nervous. Women who experience claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, might also experience the same thing.
So before you use any kind of shapewear on a frequent basis, ask yourself first, is it worth the risks?