For many women, Spanx have come to be famously known as clothing hacks to flatter your figure. After all, what grown woman hasn’t at least tried on shaping shorts, shaping underwear, or super-tight tights that vow to suck, smooth, and squeeze all of the classic problem areas? Even the Kardashians are fans of the form-fitting shapewear!
Many women see Spanx as an occasional wardrobe addition, meant to amplify assets and diminish visible problem areas under special occasion outfits. For others, however, those stretchy undergarments are a way of life. But if you wear your Spanx on the daily, you may be doing your body more harm than good. Still, while your confidence may soar in Spanx, your insides just might suffer the consequences. As reported by HuffPost, compressing shapewear can actually squeeze your organs and cause some rather undesirable effects, including acid reflux, incontinence, varicose veins, bacterial infections, and even severe nerve damage.
Beauty doesn’t have to mean pain — especially when said pain comes with significant, long lasting internal damage. Unfortunately, constantly wearing Spanx is one underwear mistake many women are probably making. Read on to find out what happens to your body when you wear Spanx every day.
When you wear Spanx every day, your skin could break out
Your beloved Spanx might suck in your gut and give you a slimmer silhouette, but your pair of Spanx could also give you a nasty breakout. “These garments touch with skin more than any other fabric you are wearing,” Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming explained to Cleveland Clinic. She continued, saying, “Because it’s synthetic, you can develop an irritation.”
Folliculitis is another frequent infection suffered by Spanx-wearers, as “bacteria often gets trapped among hair follicles and causes red-pussed filled bumps,” according to Dr. Maryann Mikhail (via HuffPost). “Usually folliculitis can be easily treated with topical antibiotics,” Dr. Mikhail revealed. She continued, saying, “But recurrent infections may develop antibiotic resistance, meaning they get harder and harder to treat.”
If any of the above happens, it may be time to give your body a break and put away the shapewear for a while — as wearing Spanx every day is one of the surprising things that can cause acne. You should also consider upgrading to the next size or trying a different brand of shapewear, Dr. Wakim-Fleming suggests. According to the doctor, “frequent laundering” can also help quell potential infection-causing bacteria.
Wearing Spanx every day could reduce your circulation
If your Spanx underwear or shapewear shorts leave an undeniable indentation in your skin, they are most definitely too tight.
Speaking with HuffPost, chiropractor Dr. Karen Erickson likened wearing these constricting undergarments to “putting these giant rubber bands around your upper thighs and tightening them when you sit.” However, while this certainly sounds uncomfortable, can wearing too-tight shapewear actually be dangerous? According to Dr. Erickson, the answer is yes. As she explained to HuffPost, super constrictive shapewear can reduce circulation and potentially even cause blood clots, varicose veins, and lymph congestion. Dr. Erickson also noted that this can even happen with skinny jeans and pantyhose that are too small.
So, if your ankles and calves look swollen and you feel a tingling or burning sensation when wearing your go-to shapewear, strip down and size up when you purchase your next pair of slimming Spanx. Your swollen limbs will thank you — and so will your blood flow!
You could get acid reflux if you wear Spanx every day
Your Spanx may make you love the way you look in slinky dresses and form-fitting ensembles, but all that squeezing and pressing and squishing could cause some less than desirable internal effects. Dr. Ruby Greywoode, a gastroenterology fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explained to Self that constricting Spanx and other shapewear items may push on your belly too much, causing you to feel some mild tummy discomfort or even moderate stomach pain. Worse yet, it can lead to or even exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux, and heartburn.
“[Excessively tight] shapewear may compress the stomach and prevent its contents from passing properly, and instead it can back up into the esophagus,” Dr. Greywoode explained to the publication, painting quite a worrisome picture.
So, if you find yourself experiencing severe heartburn symptoms every time you wear your Spanx, you may want to reconsider the undergarment choice. Or, at the very least, consider trying a slightly larger size.
If you wear Spanx every day, you could experience bloating and bad gas
Are your Spanx worth having to deal with embarrassing gas-related issues every day? While some people may not be willing to give up their beloved shapewear for a big night out on the town, they might leave their Spanx in the closet when they learn the undergarments could cause a bout of uncontrollable gassiness at their next social affair.
As noted by Cleveland Clinic, when your body is constricted in a pair of too-tight Spanx, “the gas produced with digestion and the air that you naturally swallow while eating has trouble escaping.” As Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming explained, “You’re slowing the free motion of the gastrointestinal system and trapping the gas inside.” And, if you wear these gas-trapping undergarments every day, your Spanx will undoubtedly wreak lasting havoc on your gastrointestinal system for years to come. After all, when it comes to passing gas, your dad was right — some things are better out than in!
If you want to avoid permanent tummy troubles, maybe watch what you eat before you weasel your body into tight shapewear — or perhaps consider writing off Spanx for good.
Wearing Spanx every day could lead to urinary tract infections
Getting into your Spanx is akin to having a wrestling match with yourself. Yes, you’ll likely end up rolling around on the floor and flailing your legs while fighting with your spandex undergarments. And you’ll likely also be left feeling sweaty, frustrated, and maybe even determined to avoid the bathroom until you are able to shed your shapewear for good later that evening.
Gail Johnson, a midwife at England’s Royal College of Midwives, told Parents that the inconvenience and “annoyance” of getting Spanx on and off may very well “deter” some women from using the facilities as needed. In turn, waiting too long to pee could lead to a urinary tract infection. In other words, women who are are already prone to UTI’s may not fare well in their pursuit to wear Spanx — unless, of course, they listen when nature calls.
According to RevereHealth.com, wearing too-tight, constricting shapewear undergarments made out of synthetic fibers could promote the growth of UTI-causing bacteria, as well. As the website notes, cotton workout wear is the safer bet, as the fabric is breathable and discourages yeast growth.
You might experience incontinence if you wear Spanx every day
Wearing Spanx every day could cause you to develop a urinary tract infection; however, a painful UTI isn’t the only potential side effect that could happen if you choose to forgo regular trips to the bathroom whilst wearing your pesky, hard-to-get-out-of Spanx. Ironically, your shapewear of choice could also cause you to lose control of your bladder.
“You’ve got all of this pressure on your bladder from the shapewear pressing down,” said Chiropractor Dr. Karen Erickson to HuffPost. She continued, explaining, “If you postpone urinating, it can cause stress incontinence, where you leak — or it can exaggerate stress incontinence with people who already have it.”
Dr. Erickson encourages women to be “mindful” when wearing Spanx, and says to carefully pick and choose the occasions for which they decide to use the restrictive shapewear. For example, you might want to skip it for day-to-day use at the office or while running errands. However, if you’re going to a wedding or an otherwise fancy event, Spanx might be able to give you the confidence boost you need. Just be sure to listen to your body and use the facilities when needed!
You could suffer from varicose veins if you wear Spanx every day
Wearing constricting Spanx every day could lead to serious circulation problems, as well as unsightly varicose veins. As Healthline notes, varicose veins are “enlarged veins caused by valve failure.” The gnarly-looking veins typically appear on the back side of the leg, and are unable to transport blood as well as other veins.
More problematic, however, is the potential occurrence of blood clots caused by varicose veins. Of course, this danger is especially worrisome for those who are prone to circulatory issues. A blood clot occurs when blood pools in a spot far from your heart, and the veins have a hard time pumping blood back to it, per the Center for Vein Restoration. And as Mayo Clinic devastatingly points out, a blood clot can lead to a life-altering (or even fatal) stroke.
If you have a history of vein issues or notice that your ankles looks very swollen, you might want to stop wearing the shaping underwear for a while. And, of course, consider checking in with your doctor.
You may experience shortness of breath if you wear Spanx every day
Wearing Spanx every day might leave you feeling surprisingly out of breath.
While you might choose to wear Spanx under your fanciest cocktail dress, hoping to take your crush’s breath away – those too-tight, stretchy shorts may actually be inhibiting your ability to breathe. “Control underwear is the 21st-century version of the corset, with all the same health risks,” Richard Bricknell, director at the Bristol Physiotherapy Clinic, told Daily Mail. Bricknell elaborated that control undergarments do not allow the diaphragm to fully descend, which could subsequently cause the wearer to hyperventilate or even have a panic attack. In milder instances, however, the “shallow breathing from the chest compression,” can cause a Spanx fan to simply feel a bit light-headed (via Boston.com).
In a humorous personal essay published in the Chicago Tribune, columnist Niki Fritz described her experience wearing uncomfortably tight Spanx to a friend’s wedding, writing, “I almost passed out during the ceremony, and a lovely woman had to fan me and remind to breathe, a feat my Spanx would not fully allow me to do.” Personally, we’d choose breathing easily over looking slimmer any day of the week.
You may get ingrown hairs if you wear Spanx every day
Your Spanx may make you feel more confident for a few hours every day. However, wearing these undergarments could make you feel quite uncomfortable long after you’ve taken them off. And considering there are plenty struggles of getting ready to deal with, it’s safe to say no one wants to be met with struggles after getting undressed.
As Dr. Ava Shamban explained to Women’s Health, Spanx and other and other uncomfortably tight clothing articles “create fiction” and put “pressure on your hair follicles” potentially forcing hairs to “curl down into the skin instead of growing normally.” In other words, wearing Spanx every day could cause you to develop pesky ingrown hairs.
As WebMD notes, ingrown hairs are uncomfortable, itchy, and painful hairs that grow into or under your skin — sometimes as a result of of cutting, shaving, or waxing your body hair. One way to try to avoid these spiky little hairs from cramping your style is by avoiding too-tight clothing and shapewear — such as your go-to pair of Spanx. Instead, opt for breathable, cotton workout wear.
Your posture could suffer if you wear Spanx every day
If you’re a Spanx superfan who regularly wears the form-fitting undergarments, you might notice that you seem to stand (and sit) a little taller while wearing your go-to shapewear. However, experts warn that Spanx should not be used as a substitute for good posture. “Shapewear is not a substitute for having strong muscles,” chiropractor Dr. Karen Erickson told HuffPost. She elaborated that these garments should not be used as a “crutch,” explaining to HuffPost that strengthening your abdominal muscles will help you attain better posture and strengthen your back and body.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to fix your posture — but wearing Spanx is not the same as wearing a back brace specifically designed to support your back and core. “Shapewear’s a little different in that it’s not therapeutically designed — it’s cosmetically designed,” Dr. Erickson explained.
While one study out of Iowa State University found that women who wore modified bodysuits saw significant postural improvements, it’s important to not become too reliant on shapewear as a postural tool. Your muscles still need to do their job and pull their weight — literally!
Wearing Spanx every day could make pregnancy even more uncomfortable
Wearing Spanx every day during pregnancy might make a mother-to-be feel more comfortable and confident in her changing body. However, according to Dr. Sherry A. Ross — author of She-ology The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period – donning shapewear that is far too form-fitting and constricting should be avoided by pregnant women at all costs.
“Shapewear worn during pregnancy that fits too tight or puts unwanted pressure on different areas of the body is never a good idea,” Ross revealed to Refinery 29. She continued, explaining, “Besides creating a lot of discomfort, it can also cause pain in different parts of the body, reduced blood circulation, heartburn, and yeast infections.”
That said, the doctor explained to the website that specially-designed maternity shapewear is intended to support a woman’s body during pregnancy — unlike regular shapewear. Still, Ross stressed the importance of ensuring your maternity shapewear fits your body and burgeoning belly comfortably and correctly, telling Refinery 29, “No pregnancy or postpartum shapewear clothing should overly compress and squeeze internal organs including ribs, abdominal muscles, liver, spleen and intestines.”
You could experience nerve pain from wearing your Spanx every day
Wearing Spanx every day is, simply put, not a great idea. In addition to causing gastrointestinal problems and painful skin irritation, donning the too-tight shapewear every day could actually cause nerve damage. Who would have thought?
As Dr. Orly Avitzur revealed in Consumer Reports on Health (via NPR), super-tight garments like Spanx can “squeeze the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve,” located below the hip bone. This condition, known for causing pain and numbness in one’s thigh, is called meralgia paresthetica — though, it’s sometimes referred to by its less-intimidating nickname, “bikini brief syndrome.”
Symptoms of meralgia paretheetica can last for months, according to Cosmopolitan. And, in more severe cases, treatment may call for medications to help with the discomfort — or perhaps even surgery (via Mayo Clinic). So, the next time you find yourself trying to wiggle into your Spanx, ask yourself if looking slimmer for a few hours is really worth weeks and weeks of potential pain, tingly limbs, and concerning numbness.
You could worsen irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by wearing Spanx every day
Spanx may seem like an easy solution for getting rid of unwanted rolls or cellulite for a few hours — but the super-tight undergarments could worsen a condition that unfortunately does not have such a simple fix: IBS.
If you regularly experience pain, cramping, and constipation, followed by spurts of diarrhea, you might be suffering from IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome (via Healthline). One thing that is important to realize to help mitigate the inconvenient onset of symptoms is that IBS is often brought on my certain identifiable triggers, such as specific foods or acute anxiety. However, one less obvious catalyst for IBS episodes could be your SPANX shapewear. According to information on the Incontinence Institute‘s web site, anyone who finds themselves frequenting the bathroom should forgo these squeeze-happy garments altogether. As gastroenterologist Dr. Kuemmerle revealed on the medical center’s web site, “Increasing intra-abdominal pressure can certainly provoke episodes of [bowel] incontinence.”
As much as you might want to wear Spanx under your skirt suit to that next big job interview, if you have IBS, compressing your nerves may end up creating a potentially explosive situation.
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