Getting a flat stomach is hard, but many women feel constant pressure to have washboard abs. If you've ever sucked in your stomach, you know that posture and breathing can affect how big your stomach looks. Shapewear mimics the effect of sucking in your stomach by slightly flattening the area, but without the stress of constantly remembering to stay sucked in. Shapewear won't permanently flatten your stomach, and it does carry some risks.
How Shapewear Works
Shapewear is a type of compression garment, which means that it works by pushing fat in and compressing your entire stomach area. This can temporarily shave a few inches off your stomach and waist. Shapewear won't work miracles, though. If you have a lot of fat on your stomach, your stomach may look smaller in shapewear, but it won't necessarily look flat. Even very tight shapewear will usually make you look no smaller than when you're sucking in your stomach.
Shapewear Weight Loss
Some companies market variations on shapewear called compression garments. These garments claim that they'll help you lose weight by causing you to sweat and massaging the area, increasing circulation and supposedly improving weight loss. While sweating can help you shed a few excess calories, it's unlikely to help you lose major pounds. Moreover, if you were actually sweating enough to lose weight, you'd quickly end up dehydrated. A healthy diet and exercise plan is a much easier and safer way to lose weight.
Risks of Shapewear
Very tight shapewear can be dangerous. Because shapewear works by putting pressure on your body, it can slow circulation to the area, result in tingling and -- in rare cases -- blood clots. It may also cause the area around the edges of the shapewear to swell, and this can make you look heavier when you take off your shapewear. Shapewear is especially risky for teenagers, whose developing bodies may be damaged by the constant pressure. Extremely tight shapewear can even damage muscles and organs. Avoid wearing shapewear that is uncomfortably tight, and limit your use to eight or so hours a day.
For maximum benefit, shapewear should fit snugly against your body but should not dig into your skin or hurt. Choose breathable fabrics to prevent sweat from getting trapped against your skin. If you feel dizzy, notice that breathing is more difficult, find yourself excessively sweating or experience discomfort or tingling around or under the shapewear, stop wearing it immediately. Good shapewear should not hurt or interfere with your ability to do your usual daily tasks.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.