Spanx: Shaping Your Body & Compressing Your Organs – Seriously

“Oh my God! I can’t WAIT to take off these Spanx! They are killing me!”

This is a common compliant heard in women’s bathrooms everywhere. Spanx and all shape wear products are not killing us, but a recent news stories (like this one from the Huffington Post) have detailed health problems that can result from wearing them.

Spanx and other shape wear products are “must haves” for many women (and some men). These “miracle” elastic shapers smooth our flab to create a sleek silhouette underneath clothes. The problem? When you wear shape wear, you are not just compressing your flab, but you are also compressing your organs. Yes — REALLY. Here are just a few common side effects of too much time in shape wear:

Digestion problems. When you eat while wearing your shape wear, your food has a hard time moving through your intestines. Intestines need room to fully contract and relax to move your food along, but shape wear compresses them. Difficulty digesting results in gas, bloating, nausea and heart burn. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, your IBS symptoms can worsen and you could have bowel incontinence. If you have acid reflux, shape wear that stops at the bra line will increase your likelihood to have reflux or will worsen your reflux.

Reduced circulation. Have you seen red rings on your body after you take off your shape wear? Those red rings mean the shape wear was acting as a rubber band in that area. That rubber band compression decreases your circulation and could lead to swollen ankles, varicose veins and/or blood clots. Not good.

Leg pain and numbness.  Sitting in shape wear can lead to pain, numbness and tingling in your legs due to your peripheral nerve being squeezed. These symptoms can be off and on, or they can be constant.

Does this mean you can never wear your trusty Spanx? No. But it does mean you should be sure to get the right fit and wear them in moderation. Remember, they are not really meant for daily wear! And besides — you look perfect without them!

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  • skepticalgoat

    Cool so… where’s the link to the science that supports any of these claims?

  • Magee Rehabilitation

    Great question! We pulled the information from a Huffington Post interview with gastroenterologist Dr. John Kuemmerle, linked to in the first paragraph. Here is the direct link:

  • Julio Aranguren

    What a great informative article. I’m glad I am not a woman having to wear one of those things. Are Spanx made for men with a 40 waistline?
    What my daughter has become is a truly a blessing not just for her mother and I but Magee as well. She is our Sunshine. By the way, did I tell you she is the best SLP Magee has?
    Her Helicopter Dad

  • maryan

    whats a little gas and bloating if you look a little better? Haven’t we seen people do worse to their bodies in the name of vanity?

  • Aimee Aranguren

    Thank you for your comment! I agree with you Mary Ann! I will still be rocking Spanx for special occasions. We (women) do so much to help us feel and look good! It is about making an educated decision so you know the likely effects. Information especially for women who wear Spanx daily. Also to inform those with health issues (such as IBS, severe GERD, poor circulation) that it could be worsening their symptoms. I hope you are safe and warm if you are amidst the snow storm!

  • I agree with you that wearing a shapewear daily can cause pain but now, shapewear are specially designed to keep comfort and health in mind. We just need to choose the right size as per our body type.