They come in many brand names and are marketed to both women and men. Shapewear has become an essential accessory to many. If you are wearing one of these smoother/shaper garments only occasionally, it is not harmful; but a team of physicians is warning that daily wear can lead to real health concerns.

Compression of the stomach, intestine and colon can lead to acid reflux and heartburn. It can also cause the digestive system to struggle to push food downward through the process causing bloating, gas, and stomach pain. A gastroenterologist on the team, Dr. Kuemmerle of Virginia Commonwealth University, warns that patients with IBS should never wear the restrictive garments.

Other health problems that can be caused or worsened by shapewear are:

  • Numbness and pain in the legs if they are too tight as well as poor circulation, blood clots, varicose veins and swollen ankles
  • Skin lesions and sores caused by trapped moisture, especially concerning for overweight people or diabetics. Trapped moisture can also lead to vaginal infections.
  • Occasional incontinence caused by the increased pressure on the abdomen.

Bottom line is this - wear with caution and only on special occasions, choose the correct size and don't try to squeeze into an even smaller pair! If you have been experiencing problems, please contact your doctor at Gi Associates.

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