• By Liza Torborg

Mayo Clinic Q and A: With shapewear, moderation is key

June 16, 2015

legs with various colored pantyhoseDEAR MAYO CLINIC: I was considering wearing some shapewear under my outfit for an upcoming class reunion. But I heard a recent report saying that these garments can be risky. Is this true?

ANSWER: With shapewear — as with most things in life — moderation is key. While most people can’t imagine wearing something as restricting as an old-fashioned corset, the concept behind it continues, using contemporary materials and newer styles. Shapewear can target a particular area, such as your waist or thighs, or help contour your body from bust to knee.

The main issue with shapewear is simple discomfort. However, if you push yourself into sizes that are too small or wear them too long or too often, the discomfort may manifest in different ways. Here’s how:

Acid reflux — Wearing tightfitting clothing around the waist can increase reflux and heartburn.

Bloating and gas — If you frequently experience these signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a food intolerance or other gastrointestinal issue, you may find that constricting clothing compounds the discomfort.

Thigh pain or numbness — Pressure on nerves that run to the thighs can cause a condition called meralgia paresthetica. Commonly caused by tight clothing, it causes tingling, numbness and burning pain in the outer thigh.

Varicose veins — Wearing tight clothing for long periods can worsen these swollen veins.

Rash or infection — Tight, synthetic fabric can trap moisture. The sweating caused by extended wear can cause skin irritation. Yeast and bacterial infections also are a possibility.

When sized correctly and used for limited periods, there’s little risk in using shapewear. You may want to try on options in the store to make sure you’re comfortable and can move freely — and you’re able to manage using the restroom — when wearing them. (adapted from Mayo Clinic Health Letter) — Stephanie Faubion, M.D., Women’s Health Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

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