The dangers of squeezing into skinny jeans

Consumer Reports News: July 14, 2009 03:47 PM

In a recent Today show segment, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb modeled a new brand of skinny jeans designed with a special stretchy fabric to make women look thinner. People reports that Oprah and Rachael Ray also seem to be fans of these jeans, And last week I was reading a waiting-room magazine and came across a two-page ad by Nivea, the skin products company, asking me to join the My Silhouette! My Skinny Jeans Challenge. It promised that a comprehensive four-week program would help me firm, tone, and redefine my silhouette and get "skinny jeans confident."

The customized food and workout plan may indeed help you become healthy, but the skinny jeans may make you sick. Before you get dressed you may want to consider what neurologists have known for decades, and has recently attracted a flurry of media attention: Snug-fitting pants like skinny jeans can cause nerve damage. The condition, called meralgia paresthetica (MP), is caused by pressure on a nerve in the pelvis that causes a painful, burning, tingling thigh.

MP is only one of a host of medical problems that can be set off if you squeeze into skin-tight slacks. Constrictive clothing has been implicated as a cause of bladder infections, vaginal yeast infections, contact dermatitis, and even blood clots in the legs. It can also interfere with motility in the bowels, causing abdominal pain after a meal. In men, it has been suggested to cause genital heat stress and possible fertility problems.

Ironically for those who wear skinny jeans to improve their figure, trauma from too-tight pants can lead to a rare but disfiguring condition called lipoatrophia semicircularis in which mechanical pressure on the thighs can create skin depressions due to atrophy of the subcutaneous tissue. The first report of a case from wearing jeans was in a 19-year-old girl. A year later her 23-year-old sister developed the identical condition because she had started wearing the same discarded pair of jeans!

Here’s one example where we can blame our jeans entirely. Take my advice and ignore this fashion trend.

Orly Avitzur, M.D., Consumer Reports’ medical adviser

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