In a traditional sense, “waist training” referred to the use of steel-boned corsets to help deliver women a smaller waist and a more exaggerated hourglass shape. Today, latex waist trainers or shapers have gained popularity with celebrities like the Kardashians and Amber Rose sporting them during workouts and throughout the day. Like their traditional counterparts, the idea behind these latex corsets is the same—by cinching the corset tighter and tighter, the waist trainer promises to reveal a smaller waist with regular use. And with Kim Kardashian recently showing off her new 26” waist, the process may seem too good to be true.
To get to the bottom of this waist-shrinking trend, we reached out to New York plastic surgeon Michele Yagoda, MD, and asked some of the questions that always come to mind when seeing these coke-bottle transformations. First off, Dr. Yagoda tells us that a waist trainer will only improve the appearance of your waist temporarily by physically cinching it, and that only diet, exercise and liposuction can actually slim your waist for the long run. “Waist trainers made of latex promise to increase thermal activity and burn fat,” says Dr. Yagoda. “However, what typically happens is that the latex causes more sweating in that area and temporary water loss.”
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When it comes to the long-term consequences associated with wearing these trainers too often, Dr. Yagoda says that none should be worn for more than three hours due to the dangers that can come from compression. “There have been reports of decreased core tone, decreased breathing capacity, difficulty with digestion, inflammation of the ribs and even damage to the function and/or blood supply of the stomach, liver and lungs,” she explains, adding that it’s definitely more dangerous to wear these trainers during exercise when increased breathing capacity is necessary and when the organs may otherwise be squished from changes in posture. “The only real benefit to wearing a waist shaper may be a reminder—by way of discomfort—to have better posture.”