We hate to say it, but some of the waist trainer before-and-after pics we've seen on social media are pretty darn impressive. But can you really get an enviable hourglass shape by wearing a middle-cinching corset for a few hours? Simply put, no.
“Their waists are not changing size due to waist training alone,” says Caroline Apovian, M.D., director of nutrition and weight management at the Boston Medical Center. “Wearing a waist trainer will only make your body appear smaller while you wear it.”
So how can all of these drastic before-and-after pics be explained? "It may be Photoshop, it may be that the wearers are so motivated by their thinner appearance while wearing a waist trainer that they take actions to lose the weight, such as altering diet and exercise routines," says Apovian. But what's more likely is that the tightness of the waist trainer prevents you from eating as much as you normally would, she says. And fewer calories consumed means a slimmer figure (eventually).
Still, there’s no reason to believe it contributes to lasting weight loss, says Apovian.
One study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care investigated whether wearing corsets could help people maintain weight loss, but the researchers weren’t able to make any conclusions since 80 percent of the study participants ditched the corsets within three months. So there's that.
Being uncomfortable is a major concern, but wrapping a waist trainer dangerously tight poses serious health risks, too, says Apovian. “They can push the stomach beyond the diaphragm, causing reflux and interfering with breathing,” she says. Also worth noting: They can damage your ribs and seriously screw with your workout. (Lose the weight without the gimmicks with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)
If slipping on a waist trainer occasionally motivates you to get healthy, Apovian doesn’t see a problem with it. Just know that it will not cause weight loss on its own, she says. And if you feel any discomfort just toss it. It's not worth it.