Is Shapewear Body Contouring Safe?


Want a sleek silhouette? Shapewear can help—but be careful! Wearing it for too long can cause health problems. Learn how to use it safely here.

Compress to Impress


Shapewear has been popular among women for decades, and it’s not hard to see why. These undergarments are designed to smooth out lumps and bumps, providing a sleek and slim silhouette.

Compression clothing and shapewear are two different types of garments with different purposes. While shapewear is designed to provide a slimmer and smoother silhouette, compression clothing is designed to improve athletic performance and aid in recovery.

Compression clothing is typically made from high-quality, stretchy materials that fit snugly against the skin. It provides a graduated pressure to help increase blood and lymphatic flow, reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, and enhance recovery. Some studies have also shown that compression clothing can improve endurance and power output during exercise.

On the other hand, shapewear is often made from materials that are not designed for physical activity, such as nylon and spandex. It’s purpose is to create a slimmer and smoother silhouette by compressing and shaping the body. However, shapewear can be restrictive and may limit range of motion, making it unsuitable for exercise.

Therefore, while compression clothing can be beneficial for exercise, shapewear is not recommended for physical activity. Wearing shapewear for prolonged periods of time can lead to a number of health concerns. If you are looking for a garment to wear during workouts, it’s best to choose compression clothing that is specifically designed for that purpose. Here are some of the potential risks of using shapewear, and some tips for using them safely.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Wearing shapewear can compress the stomach, intestines, and colon, which can cause gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. This can happen because the tight garment can push the stomach acid up into the esophagus, leading to a burning sensation and discomfort.

Moreover, it can also lead to discomfort in the lower abdominal area, as the shapewear puts pressure on the colon and intestines, which can cause bloating and constipation.

Breathing Difficulties

If shapewear is too tight, it can constrict the lungs and make it difficult to breathe. This can lead to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and even chest pain. Wearing shapewear that is too tight can also cause the diaphragm to compress, which can cause further breathing difficulties.

Skin Irritation

Tight-fitting shapewear can trap sweat and bacteria against the skin, leading to skin irritation, rashes, and even infections. Shapewear made from non-breathable materials can exacerbate this problem, as it can cause excessive sweating and lead to fungal infections.

Nerve Damage

Wearing tight-fitting shapewear can compress nerves in the legs, leading to tingling, numbness, and even nerve damage. This can happen because the shapewear restricts blood flow to the legs, which can damage the nerves and cause a loss of sensation.

Blood Flow Restriction

Shapewear can also restrict blood flow to the legs and other areas of the body, leading to blood clots, varicose veins, and even deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These conditions can be dangerous and require medical attention.

Using Shapewear Safely

While there are potential risks associated with wearing shapewear, there are also ways to use them safely. Here are some tips for using shapewear without compromising your health:

  1. Choose the right size: Choosing the right size is crucial when it comes to shapewear. If you select a size that is too small, it can lead to the health concerns we have discussed. Make sure you follow the size chart carefully and get the correct size for your body shape.
  2. Limit usage time: To avoid potential health concerns, limit the amount of time you spend wearing shapewear. Ideally, you should not wear shapewear for more than 6–8 hours a day. Wearing shapewear for more than 8 hours a day can lead to health problems, especially if you wear it on a daily basis.
  3. Choose breathable materials: When it comes to shapewear, it’s essential to choose materials that are breathable and moisture-wicking. Look for shapewear that is made from cotton or other natural materials, as these materials will allow your skin to breathe.
  4. Avoid shapewear with tight waistbands: Some shapewear has tight waistbands that can constrict your stomach and cause discomfort. Avoid these types of shapewear and choose a style that fits comfortably around your waist.
  5. Do not wear shapewear to bed: Experts do not recommend sleeping in shapewear. Your body needs time to relax and breathe, and wearing shapewear for extended periods of time can disrupt this process.
  6. Take breaks: If you do wear shapewear during the day, make sure to take breaks. Give your body a chance to breathe and stretch by taking off the shapewear for a few minutes every hour or so.
  7. Do not wear shapewear during exercise: Wearing shapewear during exercise can be dangerous. Not only can it constrict your breathing, but it can also cause excessive sweating and increase the risk of skin irritation and infection.
  8. Listen to your body: If you experience discomfort or pain while wearing shapewear, take it off immediately. Your body knows best, and it’s important to listen to what it’s telling you.

Body-contouring undergarments can be useful for achieving a sleek and slim silhouette. However, it’s important to use them safely and in moderation to avoid potential health concerns. By following the tips above, you can use shapewear without compromising your health.

Remember to choose the right size, limit usage time, choose breathable materials, avoid tight waistbands, take breaks, and listen to your body. Stay safe and happy shapewear wearing!

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Updated: Jun 7, 2023

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