Q: I started to wear corsets when I was 16 (I am 27 now). I wore them for longer and longer periods until now, when I wear them 23/7 for one or two weeks at a time. Recently, I have developed an eye problem.

Two months ago, a capillary from the retina of my right eye was damaged, and began to see a transparent spot through this. The problem seems to have alleviated itself recently, but I stopped wearing corsets because I was afraid that this problem was due to that practice. Physicians tell me that the problem could have stemmed from one of two causes: Too much time working on computers; or hypertension.

My pressure is normal now, but I fear that strenuous exercise, like climbing stairs, would be exacerbated by corset wearing, and my problem will reappear. Is that possible? Or is it possible that the problem occurs because I do not wear a corset regularly? That my non-wearing breaks are too long? Should I wear the corset 23/7 all the time?--Tiberiu  (4/15/01)

A: Blood pressure can increase when the corset is made too tight too fast. Then sustaining the restriction will sustain the high blood pressure for a longer time, and will cause weak vessels to rupture. Small capillaries can have small aneurysms, which in the retina can cause "blind" spots.

I suggest getting a blood pressure meter at a drug store and monitoring these changes before, during, and after lacing. Laced in, the blood pressure should return to normal (within 5mm) within the hour; the relaxed pressure (the lower number) is especially important. The upper blood pressure number will correlate with the overall state of excitement, and may remain higher for a longer duration, similar to what happens in exercise.

The total process should be gradual. Don’t lace in four inches all at once and stay like that. Start with a couple of inches and become comfortable and relaxed before tightening further. You should ALWAYS be comfortable. Any sign of discomfort or tense feelings may indicate that you have laced too tightly too quickly.

When you start to lace, follow the guidelines and wear the corset as long as possible, but only as tight as is comfortable. Do not over-lace. The reduction and the weight loss will happen slowly, and without much stress.

Following this advice will alleviate any problems like this, even if you only lace sporadically.


Additional note:

A number of 19th century medical journals reported lower blood pressure in women who habitually tight-laced, especially with high or over-the-bust corsets, reaching up to the 5th rib pair. [e.g. ref. St. Louis Courier of Medicine, Dec, 1888], and less so with lower-reaching corsets.

Although the definition and diagnosis of diabetes was less clear then, it had a much lower prevalence than today. One could speculate that habitual tight-lacing has as a preventive action when it is worn such (depending on type and tightness) to diminish food intake. The effect is thus secondary, but no less significant.

The rise in blood pressure that can be recorded during the process of lacing in, and especially tight-lacing, is transient, and when monitored, shows a gradual settling over the course of one or more hours. This is also why when tight-lacing is practiced, it is important to lace in approximately 30 minute intervals.

Q2: I was wondering, whether a corset influences the blood pressure. I assume it increases the blood pressure?--Sandra (7/2/14)

A2: Corseting does affect BP transiently, at least initially. There can be a residual increase due to slowed venous return in extreme lacing; simpler is to measure BP right after tightening and then half an hour later to determine a safe level.


Return to Main Medical Advice Page

Return to LISA's Main Page