The Ugly Truth About Shapewear

Trying to look slim in your new dress? You may look to Spanx® or any of the other myriad shapewear options available everywhere from department stores to discount retailers. These products tout themselves as miracle solutions to make your shape more slender and smooth. Most varieties cover the stomach or part of it, the upper thighs and buttocks. Some shapewear covers almost your whole body. Their popularity has exploded in recent years with a large amount of women (and yes even men!) purchasing them.

So what could be bad about something that makes you look good? Evidently, a lot. Physicians are saying that shapewear compresses your organs.

According to gastroenterologist Dr. John Kuemmerle, shapewear can worsen acid reflux and heartburn by compressing your stomach, intestine and colon. When your digestive tract is compressed for a long period of time, this affects the flow of food. There are also implications for incontinence: Your bowels are compressed.

Anyone with bowel disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, or bowel incontinence should stay far away from restrictive shapewear. “In someone who has weakness down below and a tendency toward incontinence,” Dr. Kuemmerle explained, “increasing intra-abdominal pressure can certainly provoke episodes of incontinence.”

Shapewear can also affect bladder incontinence. Shapewear is constricting and can be hard to get off, meaning people try and go to the bathroom less when wearing them. But waiting to use the restroom exacerbates urinary issues, and worsens stress incontinence.

The main takeaway is that shapewear should not be worn by anyone on a daily basis. It should only be worn occasionally. But for those with incontinence, whether bladder or bowel, it’s best to avoid shapewear altogether.

Suffering from incontinence? There is help. Contact us or call our discreet, dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.