A lot of women wear them; some can't remember what they did without them. We're talking about shapewear, including the popular brand Spanx. Women rushed out to buy them when Hollywood stars of all shapes and sizes started admitting to wearing them on the red carpet.
Recently, Octavia Spencer, one of the stars in the movie "The Help" admitted that at the Golden Globes, she wore three pairs! Channel 4's Nikki Kimbleton talked to doctors, including TV's Dr. Oz, and learned why what you're wearing under your clothes could be dangerous to your health.
Dr. Vandana Bhide, an internist and pediatrician at Mayo Clinic said that while shapewear may have you looking good tonight, it could you leave you feeling bad tomorrow.
"It can cause numbness, burning, tingling, worse when you're standing up," Dr. Bhide said.
"If you're wearing these garments all day, you run the risk of having these nerves be compressed and running the risk of the symptoms.
And if you wear them a lot and for long periods of time, Dr. Bhide said that damage could become permanent. And according to Dr Oz., that's just one of several risks.
"Because these products are expensive, women don't own many pairs," Dr. Oz explained. "So they will keep wearing the same pair over and over. That leads to urinary tract infections and other types of irritants as material gets stuck down there where there's moisture. That as well is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow."
Something both doctors say causes the medical problems, wearing shapewear that is too tight.
They said that's why you need to follow the sizing guide on the package or tag that designates your size by your height and weight. Dr. Bhide said a lot of women ignore these and go a size or two smaller so they will look slimmer.
"The garments are made to enhance and support but not to make you 'look' smaller because you're trying to squeeze into something that doesn't fit you," said Dr. Bhide.
Connie Morris has worn them several times for special events. She said they made a difference and helped her look great but,
"Getting them on and off is the pits especially when you're in the summer and sweating and all," Morris said.
Which brings us to another problem, women who avoid using the bathroom because they're wearing shapewear.
"Not going to the bathroom does cause long term issues," Dr. Oz said. "Women who hold it when wearing shapewear is very common cause you don't want to get all of that stuff off you. Their bladders will begin to get larger, they will get infections as the bacteria that would otherwise be urinated out begins to populate the reservoir."
This is why Dr. Oz said you shouldn't be wearing shapewear for long periods of time.
"Why live with misery? Look good for the few hours you want to look good and then go back to normal," said Dr. Oz.
Bottom line, Dr. Oz told our Nikki Kimbleton that if you're going to wear shapewear, don't wear it any longer than three hours at a time.
"The general rules of thumb for me with shapewear is to wear it for just a couple or a few hours in a row to look good at the event but then get it off as soon as you can and let the other regions of your body begin to breathe," said Dr. Oz.