Could shape-wear and compression garments be harming your health?

Our increasing love of shape wear and compression garments has lead some doctors to issues warnings about the potential risks of extended wear.

Shapewear of some description can likely be found in the wardrobes of most modern women. I’m such a fan that I think I probably own more shape wear than I do normal undies. Compression garments, on the other hand, are predominantly designed as medical and fitness aids.

Related:How to buy the perfect undies for your body shape.

Doctors are now warning that prolonged use of these garments might lead to a condition called meralgia paresthetica, which is pressure on the nerves that run in front of your hips. It causes painful burning and itching in the thigh area. It’s not fun and it could last days or weeks, depending on how long or how frequently you use the garments.

“We all want a shortcut that will be more effortless,” Orly Avitzur, a neurologist told L.A. Times. “But that doesn’t help us in terms of all the advantages of exercise and a really nutritious diet.” (Post continues after gallery.)

Apparently meralgia paresthetica isn’t the only issue that can arise from prolonged use of shapewear:

Skin Issues

Due to the nature of the garment, shape-wear and compression garments can possibly lead to skin irritations and infections when worn for long periods of time. The fabric allows for little breathing, and yeast infections are not uncommon due to sweating and chafing.


“For someone to develop a fungal infection, you would need to have that area moist and hot for a prolonged period of time.So theoretically I guess it’s true. Whether or not it’s any worse than wearing, say, a tight pair of wet jeans or something I’m not sure,” explains Doctor Sam Hay.


Extended periods of compression of the mid-section can put unnecessary pressure on internal organs such as the stomach, intestines and oesophagus. This can lead to problems like acid reflux, pain from wind and heartburn.

Continued use of shaping garments can worsen pre-existing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and urinary incontience. Not the kind of issues you want to be dealing with when you’re squished into a pair of Spanx.

No, we’re definitely not telling you to throw out your beloved shape-wear, just be mindful of how often you’re wearing them and see your doctor if you feel any health conditions arising. If you need me, I’ll be shopping for shape-wear…

Related: Meet Dr Pimple Popper, the YouTube star with the grossest (read: best) videos.

Do you use shape-wear?


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