Famous sisters Kim and Khloe have fueled plenty of interest in waist cinching, by posting Instagram photos of themselves wearing waist-training devices—essentially, bands of material that wrap tightly around the waist and lower rib cage to provide an instantly slimming, hourglass look.
Other celebs such as Tamar Braxton, Ciara, Angela Simmons, Blac Chyna and Tameka (Tiny) Harris have all touted the benefits of waist trainers.
Another product—a sport body wrap made of nylon and neoprene—is meant to be worn around the waist during exercise, with the intention of promoting “intense sweating.”
But do they deliver?
Not if you’re looking for anything more than temporary results, says Caroline Apovian, M.D., professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
“If you’re going out and want to look really thin, I don’t see a problem with wearing one of these for an evening,” she says. In fact, wearing a waist trainer may even help boost some women’s confidence and encourage them to exercise and eat healthy. “If you look in the mirror and like what you see, it can potentially be a good thing.”
But as for the claims that these devices can actually reshape the body or trigger fat loss, there’s no evidence. “In my opinion, that is complete nonsense,” Dr. Apovian says.
“The latex in cinchers boosts thermal activity and increases perspiration,” says Ruben Soto, CEO and founder of hourglassangel.com. “Like any fitness regimen, it’s best to listen to your body’s cues, but with this firm compression around your midsection, your skin will sweat in your target area.” Any weight loss will be temporary water weight, but if you’re prepping for an important event where you want to dress to impress, it can help you look your best.
Benefits and Misconceptions
While Dr Apovian, believes regularly wearing a waist trainer can actually decrease core strength, Brad Thomas, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and founding partner of Beach Cities Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, finds merit to some of these benefits. “One benefit that may be overlooked about waist trainers and wraps are their ability to help an individual activate their abdominal core muscles and inspire good posture,” he says. “Possibly, if they are worn a bit loose as to not completely smash the waist but still pull in one’s tummy, the trainers could have a lasting benefit.” In this case, it’s not necessarily the corset that’s transforming your body directly, but it’s simply serving as a reminder to you to engage your core muscles as you go about your daily activities.
In addition, wearing a corset or other compression garment for a long time could give the wearer the advantage of back support and posture control because of the binding and cinching effect. The boning, elastic or rubber material of the waist cincher also gives those who wear them added abdominal support, which can be helpful in reminding you to sit up straight throughout the day or not to overeat.