Shapewear might seem like a necessity when it comes to slipping into slinky dresses that show everything and forgive nothing, but experts are saying compression clothes might actually be pretty bad for your health. Not that we shouldn’t have seen this one coming–a smaller waist in three seconds was bound to come with a catch.
Although women like Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, and Heidi Klum basically worship at the altar of Spanx during red carpet season, health experts warn you might want to abstain from the stretchy stuff. In fact, doctors are seeing women who use shapewear come in with temporary nerve damage and a condition called meralgia paresthetica which causes painful burning and tingling in the thighs. Ask your grandmother about it–she might remember this painful side-effect from an era when women were expected to wear restrictive girdles.
If that wasn’t enough to scare you off shapewear for life, the pressure these pieces put on the abdomen literally squeezes your internal organs. This can lead to some nasty tummy problems, Jay Kuemmerle, a gastroenterologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond told the L.A. Times: “For someone who has reflux disease or is prone to reflux, wearing tight garments may exacerbate those symptoms.” He also says it can worsen the discomforts of irritable bowel syndrome and urinary incontinence, and warned women away from trying Jessica Alba’s “corset diet” for weight loss.
Right now doctors don’t completely agree about whether shapewear is dangerous; some medical professionals think Spanx should come with a health warning, while others just suggest you simply shouldn’t wear it too often–or too tight.
The bottom line here is that you might want to reconsider regularly pulling on rigid shapewear to smooth out your lumps and bumps–because the illusion of smoother stomach probably isn’t worth squished organs, nerve damage, and symptoms women haven’t experienced since the days of girdles and corsets.