MILWAUKEE-- As the name suggests, shapewear is designed to change your shape and smooth out garment lines. But does shapewear do more harm than good?
"It all depends on the size that you wear and the length of time you wear it," said Dr. Arash Babaei, a Gastroenterologist at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
It may seem obvious, but Dr. Babei says the biggest mistake people make, is wearing a size that's too small for their body shape.
"If you wear a smaller size, the pressure that exerts on your body will get at a level that can potentially harm you... it can increase Intragastric Pressure and cause Reflux problems, especially if you already have an underlying condition," said Dr. Babei.
Another mistake people make: wearing shapewear for long periods of time because it can put you at risk for blood clots. "That's what happens when people are on airplanes and they sit and dont have any motion and are at risk for developing clots," Dr. Babei explained.
But just because shapewear can be harmful if not worn properly, does not mean you should not wear it, according to Dr. Babei. His advice: "If you're a very healthy person and you wear it for a couple of hours on a special occassion, I think it's okay and I think it's much safer than having plastic surgery."
Fashion experts we talked to agree. It's one thing to be fashionable, another to be uncomfortable... but shapewear should not be your only option.
"They don't necessarily have to go to an extreme just to get the kind of shape they are looking for," said Lydia Hamilton-Monnie, who owns a boutique for plus size women in Milwaukee's Third Ward.
Hamilton-Monnie sells shapewear at Boutique Larrieux, but doesn't encourage every woman who goes in to buy it.
"Just be open to trying out alternatives and don't get hung up on what you necessarily mentally envision on what will fit on your shape," said Hamilton-Monnie.
Bottom Line: It's okay to wear shapewear as long as you wear the right size, for a short period of time.