Control pants like Spanx, can be worn on special occasions but it is not advisable to wear them all of the time, experts say. Photo / Creative CommonsControl pants like Spanx, can be worn on special occasions but it is not advisable to wear them all of the time, experts say. Photo / Creative Commons

They are many women's best friend and a staple of the A-listers' wardrobes.

But experts have warned that trusty control underwear, such as Spanx, may do more harm than good.

Experts say people who wear these items are compressing their organs.

Gastroenterologist Dr John Kuemmerle, at Virginia Commonwealth University, dermatologist Dr Maryann Mikhail, at Spring Street Dermatology, New York, and chiropractor Dr Karen Erickson, from Erikson Healing Hearts in New York, told The Huffington Post that shapewear can cause acid reflux and heartburn as well as stress incontinence and infections.

Dr Kuemmerle said Spanx compress the stomach, intestine and colon which can lead to acid reflux and heartburn.

Dr Erickson added that they also affect the digestive tract, meaning the intestines struggle to move food through the digestive system.

This, she says, can cause stomach pain, bloating and flatulence.

Dr Kuemmerle says people with irritable bowel syndrome should steer clear of restrictive underwear.

He told journalist Rebecca Adams at The Huffington Post: "In someone who has weakness down below and a tendency towards incontinence, increasing intra-abdominal pressure can certainly provoke episodes of incontinence."

Dr Erickson added that people often avoid going to the bathroom when they are wearing shapewear because it is hard to take off.

She told the website: "You've got all of this pressure on your bladder from the shapewear pressing down. If you postpone urinating, it can cause stress incontinence, where you leak, or it can exaggerate stress incontinence with people who already have it."

Kim Kardashian once said that Spanx were her best friend. Photo / APKim Kardashian once said that Spanx were her best friend. Photo / AP

This is not the first time doctors have warned of the dangers of wearing Spanx.
It has been claimed that they increase pressure on the lower stomach which forces acid into the gullet which could, over time, increase the risk of ulcers and even oesophageal cancer.

Experts have also suggested control pants prevent the diaphragm descending fully during breathing which can cause hyperventilation and panic attacks.

The experts claim wearing Spanx can also cause pain and numbness in the legs.

They say sitting in the garments can cause meralgia paresthetica - a condition which occurs when the peripheral nerve in the thigh is compressed. This can result in tingling and numbness.

Dr Erickson says the effect is like that of having an elastic band around your leg.

She says this can also lead to poor circulation and even blood clots as well as varicose veins and swollen ankles.

Finally, Dr Mikhail says wearing control pants can cause infections.

She says they can trap moisture against the skin which leaves people prone to both yeast and bacterial infections.

She says the most common type of infection they cause is folliculitis - this occurs when bacteria get trapped among hair follicles and cause puss-filled lumps to develop.

This, she says, is particularly common in overweight people and those with diabetes as they tend to sweat more.

While the experts are wary about the potential health effects of wearing shapewear, they admit it is not a problem if people just wear it for special occasions.

They recommend that people do not wear it every day or sit in it for long periods.

When approached by MailOnline, Spanx declined to comment.

- DAILY MAIL