Tummy Tucker and Shapewear: Know their side-effects

What are tummy-tuckers?

Body shapers are a multi-million pound industry, with companies increasingly working towards manufacturing them.

Body shapers are considered as an easy and convenient way to look “slim and beautiful”. While not helping you lose weight in a healthy way, tummy-tuckers give the appearance of reduced belly fat, fat from the posterior regions of the body, and minimized body bumps.

The designs differ in the sense that some of the shape-wears are open and are worn like a belt by stretching and fixing it slowly with a tap. Some tummy tuckers are closed and need to be worn from your top or from the feet and brought till the waist. There are panty-style body shapers which are made to suppress the lower abdomen cramps, as well as bumps.  These body shapers or tummy tuckers are easy to wash as they are made up of flexible and polyester material. 

Shapewear and corsets enjoy a huge popularity in the West and are rapidly gaining appeal among women in India. They are perfect for wearing under almost any outfit, ranging from trousers and tops, to shorts and tanks, to dresses and skirts. Maternity shapewear is fine for women to wear daily if they are comfortable. It can help women with varicose veins, which can be uncomfortable when standing. It is also said to provide support to lift the uterus off the cervix and ease pain, in case the pelvis gets misaligned. However, one must check with their doctor before opting for this.

Why are tummy tuckers harmful?

Body tuckers are tight and this can lead to blood clots which can travel to the lungs, heart and the brain. Squeezing the body too much into a tight garment places either direct pressure on to a nerve, or squeezes internal organs. The tighter the fabric, or the more uncomfortable it is, the larger the damage. Health issues including bladder infections, gastrointestinal problems and nerve damage can cause numbness and burning in the thighs (meralgia paresthetica). The stomach, intestine, and colon can become compressed making the effects of acid reflux worse, and giving heartburn. It can “provoke erosive esophagitis,” (severe injury to the esophagus due to acid erosion).

The diaphragm becomes restricted and abdomen flares on inhalation, causing shallow breathing. Bowels can get compressed, causing problems for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or functional bowel disorders, causing episodes of incontinence. Shapewear can suppress the urge to go to the bathroom, which may in turn cause stress incontinence.

Varicose veins can develop for those who are “genetically” prone to it. Another symptom can be “lymph congestion,” or swollen ankles. For those who depend on shapewear to give them better posture, back muscles could suffer: not enough air can circulate due to the tightness of the shapewear. Hence, a lot of it moisture gets trapped, in turn providing a perfect breeding ground for germs that can lead to yeast and bacterial infections. Regular usage can lead to development of folliculitis, which causes red puss-filled bumps along hair follicles. Shapewear can cause hyperventilation and panic attacks.

DOs and DON’Ts of wearing a shapewear

Shapewear DOs – 

  • Learn how to put on a shapewear correctly
    Knowing the right way to put a body shaper on is important. Always step into the shapewear and pull it up over your buttocks to avoid getting your head and arms stuck in it. Do not try to put the shapewear on like a regular piece of clothing, instead bunch it up like pantyhose and put it on slowly while realizing the fabric. Read the instructions, as wearing a shaper can take a bit more effort.  
  • Try on shapewear before committing to buy
    Remember that every woman has a different body and it is not necessary that the body shaper that suits your friend will also suit you. Try on different shapewears and then choose the one that suits you well.
  • Know how often the garment is worn
    Shapewears come in different styles, designs and level of control that functions according to your needs. For example, a shapewear designed for dress is different from an all – day shaper, so understand and buy according to your needs.
  • Know which shapers help which body parts
    All shapewears aren’t created for the same functions. Each type serves a specific function. For example, a control brief is for abdomen, rear, hips and sometimes waist while a waist cincher is only for waist and abdomen if extends downwards. The key to comfort is understanding your body type and buy accordingly.
  • Do wash new pieces before wearing
    This rule should be followed for all the clothing regardless of what the item is. Fabrics are made out of chemicals like polyester, nylon and spandex and also treated with other chemicals. Also, during the packaging, shipping and displaying many people handle it. So it better to wash the body shaper before wearing it for the first time. 

Shapewear Don’ts

  • Don’t buy shapewear that is too small
    Shapewears that are smaller do not provide more support, rather they are tight and uncomfortable. A shapewear that is too tight can harm your body by cutting off the blood circulation or by pressing the nerves and damaging it. 
  • Don’t give up on diet and exercise
    A shape wear is no substitute for the health benefits of good nutrition and regular activity. Instead of giving up on your diet and exercise, try working out regularly and eating healthy. Try giving up shapewear. It will not only keep you healthy and reduce the risks of many diseases, but will also boost your energy and confidence. 

Shapewear comes with its issues, most of them are temporary while others are not. All the information provided is not to discourage anyone to try it, instead to enhance your understanding on the ways you can keep yourself healthy while still using a shapewear (it’s totally your choice). 

WHL TIP: While helpful in some cases, shape-wears generally promote unhealthy body image, and can be damaging. It is always best to consult a physiotherapist before opting to wear shape wear regularly.

About the Author

WHL Staff

The WHL staff comprises a group of ladies out to give you exhaustive, practical health tips and resources.