Summary: The corset of the future is here and it’s making quite a splash, thanks in large part to support from some high-profile personalities. Waist trainers are garments worn around the torso, compressing the midsection into an hourglass shape. This modern-day corset claims an advantage over its predecessors: celebrity sponsorship.

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Praised by celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, waist trainers promise that the garment can melt fat and “train” the waist to become smaller. The trend of purported body sculpting may not be all that it’s cracked up to be, however. In fact, no garment can actually change the shape of the body, and instead can cause harmful side effects.

1. Acid Reflux

A waist trainer is a garment that’s designed to be cinched tightly around the waist and midsection. This displaces some of the body’s internal organs and push the stomach up beyond the diaphragm. The pressure exerted by the waist trainer makes it more difficult to properly digest food. This can lead stomach acid to move backwards up to the esophagus and cause heartburn, which is a symptom of acid reflux as well as a signal that it’s time to take the corset off.

2. Bruised Bones

As adults, our bones are fully formed. Our bone structure, including our ribcage, is part of what determines the shape of our waist and midsection. Wearing a waist trainer cannot change the shape or position of our bones, but it can bruise the ribcage. They say that beauty is pain, but you should really draw the line before bones become bruised or broken.

3. Difficulty Breathing

Lungs need to expand in order to take in a full breath, but because waist trainers compress the midsection, they squeeze the ribs. This prevents the lungs from expanding, which makes it hard to breathe. Women who wear the garment end up taking much shallower breaths. This can result in an oxygen shortage, reduced energy levels, and even cause some women to pass out, not unlike a Southern belle with a case of the “vapors.” (Quick, somebody get the smelling salts!) In some cases, waist trainers may even cause fluid to build up in the lungs, which heightens the risk of pneumonia.

4. Pressure on the Heart

The whole idea behind a waist trainer is that it constricts your midsection in an attempt to teach your body to form a new, slimmer shape. The problem is that there are vital organs that perform vital functions which are also affected when this tight garment is worn. Waist trainers can actually decrease the blood flow in veins, contribute to the formation of blood clots, and ultimately put more pressure on the heart.

The bottom line is that there’s no quick fix to changing the body’s natural shape. Waist trainers may offer temporary results, which are hard-won and not without risk. But soon after the garment comes off, the body will revert back to its original contours.

For people interested in fine-tuning their shape without surgery, nonsurgical body contouring may be the perfect solution. UltraShape® can permanently destroy fat cells using ultrasound technology. Another option is VelaShape™ III, which uses light and sound waves and vacuum pressure to effectively dissolve fat cells. These noninvasive fat removal procedures require no downtime, and unlike the waist-training trend, they can actually give you the slimmed down, sleeker contours you’re looking for.