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Side Effects of Wearing Shapewear

Side effects of wearing shapewear

Shapewear is a relatively popular fashion accessory worn by many people in Western countries, and it is especially popular among womenfolk. Women who want to flaunt flawless figures opt for shapewear to achieve an hourglass figure. But what are the side effects of wearing shapewear? They come in different shapes and sizes, from corsets to waist trainers, abdomen belts to strapped trainers.

The first type of shapewear ever released to the market were Victorian corsets made of fine materials like satin, linen, or cotton or a mixture of all three. They were designed with plastic and other semi-solid materials to give the undergarment form. Today, we have more advanced shapewear with elastic bands and breathable fabric for comfort.

How do they work?

Shapewear compresses the body into a near-flawless shape. When you wear it, the extra flesh and the bulging out stomach-ward or from both sides of your stomach is compressed inside. This way, your frame is devoid of extras that disfigure your skin. Beyond that, they are very good for posture, and they help you stay erect. 

Remember that shapewear is not meant to permanently help you change your stature or figure but make you look presentable by sucking in unwanted edges. This is why they are called body enhancers but not body modifiers.

But wearing this undergarment comes with its own risks. Here are some of the side effects of wearing shapewear

How do they work?

Shapewear side effects

Pressure on the lungs

Shapewear places the lungs and other internal organs under severe pressure. A compressed lung makes breathing difficult that is why some users complain about breath shortness, especially if the garment is too tight. If this continues for a long time, it may cause serious health complications.

Blood circulation will be affected

For your body to function smoothly, blood should flow freely without disruption through the vessels. However, a constricted waist leads to more pressure on the heart to pump blood, and that being said blood might not flow as freely as it should. This may cause palpitations if care is not taken. The good news is that most modern-day shapewear is made with breathable fabrics, so palpitations are less likely. But the risk still exists.

Indigestion issues

The stomach, colon, and intestines are some of the internal organs affected by shapewear. If the one you wear is too tight, the pressure will make it difficult for your body to digest food. This may, in turn, lead to a complication called acid flux which may trigger heartburns. If you feel heartburn after wearing shapewear, this might be an indication that you are wearing it too tight. Another organ that will suffer under intense pressure is your bowels. If movement is restricted, you may suffer from bowel irritation.

Difficulty with peeing

This is one common problem that is not as talked about as it should be. If you wear your shapewear too tight, it may cause you to want to pee often and when you eventually go to the toilet, peeing then becomes a problem as you will have to remove the shapewear first.

Skin friction and irritation

Another side effect of shapewear is skin friction and irritation. Wearing loose underwear not only allows air in, but it reduces or prevents skin friction. However, if parts of your skin come under intense pressure (crotch area), you will begin to feel itchy down there. Furthermore, bacteria may be trapped in between ingrown hairs and follicles, which will lead to bumps and rashes.

Skin friction and irritation

Blood Clots

Blood clots are a remote possibility of you don’t wear shapewear moderately. Applying too much pressure on your lower body for a significant period of time may lead to blood clots and inflamed varicose veins. People with certain genetic conditions are more likely to experience this condition if care is not taken.


Shapewear can prevent your diaphragm from expanding and contracting as it should, which could cause hyperventilation. This is one of the symptoms of shortness of breath and several other issues.

 Bladder related issues

Still, on the issue of shapewear side effects, people with weak bladders may exacerbate their condition by wearing tight shapewear consistently. This may lead to stress incontinence and constant leaks.

Urinary tract infections

This is not a direct but remote possibility if you always wear shapewear, but how so? Simply because people who wear shapewear all the time may be reluctant to obey nature’s call as at when due because of the stress of taking off the undergarment. Delaying urine regularly may lead to UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), which is a serious infection that can cause more than a few diseases.

Organ compression

We have pointed out this before, but the seriousness of it warrants a paragraph of its own. Organ compression is simply the compression of internal organs, which is not a good thing. Your abdominal region is one part of the body where several organs are stationed. This part of the body bears the brunt of the shapewear. If you expose them to tremendous pressure for a very long time, there is no telling what the consequences might be. So it is better to be careful than sorry. Again, avoid wearing shapewear too tight.


After eating a heavy meal, your body will likely want to dispel some of the gas produced. But what happens if your organs and muscles are compressed like sardines? It will have a hard time releasing the gas. Squished gas in your system may cause bloating. However, this condition is only temporary as your body will eventually release it once you take off the garment, but the delay can be very unpleasant.

Bacteria growth

Marketers of shapewear will never tell you that their figure-hugging underwear can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Since these undergarments cause sweating, an accumulation of moisture can become a problem. The pants you wear could accumulate bacteria that may enter your vaginal region and cause all kinds of problems.


If blood doesn’t flow properly through your veins as it should, you will begin to feel numb and tingling sensations in the affected part. A serious condition you want to avoid is called Meralgia Paresthetica, which occurs if a core nerve in your lower body is compressed.

Bad posture

This is not a direct problem of shapewear per se but may occur if you wear it incorrectly. If you become too reliant on shapewear to improve your posture, you may discover over time that you have a hard time maintaining your posture without one. This may become a problem of its own.

Overall, shapewear increases the risk of infections because they trap moisture. So if you must wear shapewear regularly, make sure you wash it regularly or buy more than one, so you can alternate them regularly.

How to minimize the side effects of wearing shapewear?

How to minimize the side effects of wearing shapewear?

There are steps you can take to minimize the side effects of shapewear.

Size matters: Always wear the right size over one that is too small for you. If you must try it out to be sure before you pay for it, then do so. If you are afraid of making mistakes, then don’t buy online.

Explore alternative weight loss programs: Shapewear should not be used as a sole weight loss item. Doing so will place your body under too much pressure. Eating a balanced diet and working out should be your main route to losing weight.

Watch the duration:  Never wear your shapewear for more than 8 hours daily, and do not wear it every day. Give your body time to rest.

Stop when you feel discomfort: Stop wearing it immediately you feel any serious discomfort. Your health should be your number one priority over anything else.

Side effects of wearing Shapewear FAQ

What are some of the side effects of wearing shapewear?

Some of the side effects of wearing shapewear include bacteria growth, improper blood circulation, bloating, among many other potential problems.

Is it possible to lose weight by wearing shapewear?

No, shapewear only provides temporary body shape modification and nothing more.

How long should I wear shapewear?

It should not be worn for more than 8 hours.

Last updated: 13/03/2022

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