Corseting for smaller waistline: Experts weigh in


Women wear a corset-like device under medical supervision to help reshape their waist. So is it worth cinching up even though some say there can be dangerous consequences?

"You wear your corset over a number of hours per day. Over a period of time, maybe a year, you can move those ribs in effecting a permanent change," said Dr. Alexander Sinclair, a plastic surgeon.

Moving the ribs sounds impossible, if not painful, but Sinclair says over time, the body accepts and adapts to a smaller waistline.

You might eat less because it's tight. It's also sweaty business because water weight is lost. But the tapering effect is due to compressing bottom ribs both in and up, which makes the space between your hips and ribs look smaller.

It was something I had to try. It is tight, incredibly tight. The procedure, done in a doctor's office, requires a fitting with minimal clothing.

Costing about $150, the corset is worn for four hours daily to start, on the first set of hooks. Over time, you're advised to make the corset tighter in increments, by advancing to the middle, then inner hooks. Then it's onto a smaller size.

Allyson Feinman of Chino Hills is being measured for her fourth corset in five months, having lost six inches, which concerns Sinclair.

"So you went from a 30 to a 28 to a 26?" Sinclair asked Feinman. "This is the last one. After this, I'm cutting you off."

Sinclair says that for some patients, it becomes an obsession.

"Some of the patients are so happy with it, for them it's a race. They become obsessive about it so they're wearing their corset 14-15 hours a day, which I think is too much," said Sinclair.

Dr. Andrew Pritikin, a physical therapist, says this style of slimming could cause problems like weakened muscles, constipation and more.

"Last time I saw it was on 'Gone With The Wind,' and it can't be comfortable," said Pritikin. "Your joint movement is not going to be nearly as normal as it should be. The lungs can't inflate as well as they should because the ribs are going to be constrained. If there's any women out there with any heart conditions, that would be a red-flag for me."

Sinclair's patients haven't experienced these issues and he feels this protocol is effective if done properly.

"I'm much happier if the patient does it over a period of a year. So slow and steady wins the race," said Sinclair.

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