How to Talk to your Doctor about Corsets


Lucy, I have discovered that corsets help greatly with my medical condition – but I’m hesitant to tell my doctor. How should I approach my physician with this information, and how can I convince my insurance provider to cover the cost of a therapeutic corset?

I’ve been receiving this question more frequently ever since my book Solaced was published, since the book covers many people’s true first-hand experiences of how they use their corsets not for vanity, but rather for medical purposes – like back support, pain relief, and anxiety reduction.

I’m not a doctor – I don’t have a medical license so I can’t give out medical advice. The book doesn’t violate this point, but of course, in the book and here on my site as well, I provide disclaimers that if you intend to wear corsets, it’s best to check with your doctor. Up until today however, I haven’t covered in detail how exactly I went about telling my own doctor (and chiropractor).

I understand that many people are shy or apprehensive about bringing it up with their doctor, but I must stress that it’s best for you to be open with your doctor about it, for better or for worse. Asking me for my opinion on whether you should or should not wear corsets is not that useful, because I have never met you – but if you have a family physician, they’re familiar with your long-term medical history. And just like your pharmacist would be able to tell you not to combine two different medications, your doctor might notice something in your medical history that might be incompatible with corseting (e.g. high blood pressure, inguinal hernia, gall stones).

 

Medical Professionals are People Too


Coming from a science background, I have several friends who have gone on to become doctors and nurses. Subsequently, I get to hear a lot of stories about their more interesting shifts, and believe me when I say that they’ve seen some pretty disgusting things. I honestly don’t think you mentioning that you wear corsets is going to particularly shock or faze them. In fact, there’s a surprising number of nurses who use corsets at work, to help support their backs while lifting patients. See the news segment below which features a nurse that wears a custom Starkers corset under her scrubs.

(All this said, if you work in an environment where there are potentially emergency situations where you need to spring into action, you will need to weigh the pros and cons yourself as to whether the corset would help with your strength vs hinder your mobility).

Remember that a (good) doctor’s office is a judgement-free zone. No matter what you show them, they’ve probably seen much worse. Smoking tobacco is almost universally seen as bad for your health, but you wouldn’t hide your smoking habit from your doctor. If you caught an STI, you would show your doctor. I don’t believe that corsets are as detrimental as cigarettes or STIs, even if they are considered by society as more controversial (that’s a post for another day) – but the point is that you should never be ashamed or afraid of bringing up anything with your doctor.

Also remember that all doctors are different, and different doctors may be more or less familiar with corsets depending on their location, their age, and what kinds of ‘side stories’ they learned from their professors in med school. A doctor from California has likely encountered patients wearing corsets more often than a doctor from Ohio. An elderly doctor who has childhood memories of their mother wearing corsets may have a different opinion about corsets than a younger doctor might, whose only exposure to corsets has been the sensationalistic social media posts on tightlacing.

 

How did I bring up the fact that I wear corsets with my doctor?


When I brought it up with my family doctor, and also my chiropractor, I did it as clearly and directly as possible. The first time I mentioned corsets to my family doctor, she seemed bored and was wondering why I was bringing it up in the first place. When you mention a corset to someone who’s unfamiliar, they might be thinking of flimsy lace bustiers, or perhaps latex or neoprene cinchers. (One person thought I was talking about floral corsages!) So the next time I had an appointment with my doctor, I brought one of my corsets in.

I showed them “THIS is exactly what I’m talking about, THIS is how it works. It has breathable material, it can be adjusted with laces, it has flexible steels, it’s rigid in these places, it presses on these areas of my body, it gives me this posture, etc.” That way, there was no miscommunication.

This isn’t my xray, but it looked very similar to this. Normally my neck is slightly lordotic (normal) but in this particular corset, my posture completely changed. Photo: e-Health Hall.

My chiropractor saw me lace into my corset, and took X-rays of my posture with and without my corsets. From that experience I learned that although I love the look of Edwardian inspired, flat-front longline corsets, they’re not the best for my posture and can lead to neck and shoulder strain over time. Longline, flat front corsets overcorrect my posture and give me an anterior (forward) tilting pelvis. This gives an exaggerated lumbar lordosis – not quite as dramatic as that associated with S-bend corsets, but it changed my posture all the same. This posture encouraged me to throw my shoulders back to counterbalance, and my head ended up popping forward too much, giving my neck a kyphotic curve. The hip bone’s connected to the… neck bone! (Abbreviated version of the song.) So, we learned that if I want to avoid neck and shoulder strain, I would need a corset that doesn’t tilt my pelvis and supports a more neutral posture.

 

In Sum:


If you have a G.P., a chiropractor, or some other health practitioner that you know and trust, I think it is in your best interest to tell them about your corseting for any reason – but especially if you are using it for therapeutic applications. Doctors need as much detail as possible to fully understand the situation help you the best they can, so the best way to approach your doctor is a directly and clearly as possible. They might be able to make suggestions about the way you’re wearing your corset to maximize comfort and minimize risks. For instance the tightness, or the duration, etc. (Or in my case, the type of corset to help improve but not overcorrect my posture).

Regarding convincing your insurance provider to cover the costs of a corset, unfortunately that is not my area of expertise. You will likely need a written note from your doctor in order to move forward, even a prescription for a custom corset (preferably one made by a corsetiere with some experience in orthopedics or medical devices). Your doctor may be able to give you more instruction on what to do next, and if the corsetiere is experienced in working with insurance companies already, they may be able to provide advice as well.

 

Have you told your doctor about your corsets? How did you tell them, and how did they respond? Leave a comment below!

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7 comments on “How to Talk to your Doctor about Corsets

  1. So sorry for my errors i forgot to check for my errors. I think you will find you way what i am saying.

    P.S. Happy Holiday to you and all your readers.

  2. I blindly not fully understanding wearing a corset ordered two from “angel corset by Kardasian’s) which ran 70.00 each, i first order the snall as i am 5ft 1inc and weigh 115 but it barely went half way around my waist so i then ordered the large which still does not fit unless i hook it up and pull it on me like a pair of pants and leave the top 2 hooks and the bottom 2 hooks undone but it still did not feel right so i just today returned them both. After finding your sight and realiazaing that wearing a corset is not just about making my body shape look better but could and is a health issue as well. I have a bad L4 and S5 disc, and Fiberm. and a very bad curvature to the right of my spine. I am 63 and got hep. C from a blood transfusion at age twenty but they did not find it until 30 yrs later at which time i was in stage end 4 of cirr.(and still am) my hep C is not cured but my liver never will be, but i can never have surgery due to a low platelet count from my liver. I am a mirical as they only gave me a year of life in 1997, but i do suffer from great pain and refuse to be dopped up day on pills, so i think with the right corset, I may be able to get some pain relief as well as loose my love handles. I am going to speak to my doctor, but may I ask what you may recommend once i get an OK on buying one which i am sure I will. I have medicare/medicarid but i do not know if you accept it, but if not I will come up with the money (i live on disabilitity, and may i say i do not get what i feel I put in) I ride a Yamaha bike everywhere and you would not know I am dieing to see me, but i say it has a lot to do with faith. Sorry, got off my subject, could you give me a few to pick from, i think a string corset would be best for me. Although i am small and tiny boned, unfortunetly my waist is 32 and a lot of that is from my asities from my liver disease.. I would love an email from you even thought i know you are very busty this is very serious to me.

    • Hello Diane, I’m not a fan of the rubber waist trainers that stretch around the body and fasten with hooks and eyes – it’s almost impossible to get a customized fit with it. If your doctor clears you to be able to wear a corset, I’m happy to discuss with you the next steps. I would need measurements of your ribcage, hips, and your torso length while sitting down in order to find the right corset for you. I have a measuring tutorial and contact form here, where I can give you my personal recommendations.

  3. alchemist on said:

    I told my doctor yesterday. He’s pretty young, but he’s a DO as opposed to an MD and runs a direct primary practice. He’s not very establishment and he’s pretty open to alternative medicines, holistic health and wellbeing and preventative care.

    I explained how it works and told him it seems to make me less anxious. I also told him you said it can increase BP and I get dizzy when I take it off quickly. But I don’t get dizzy when I unleavened slowly (thanks for the tip !). He said it was a little unconventional, but if it works, go for it!

    Thanks for all your work!

  4. Genevieve on said:

    I work for a chiropractor. I’m nervous to start stealthing at work. Maybe taking an x-ray at work would help.

  5. Rita Thompson on said:

    Most of the women in this current world don’t share her problem with a doctor, they always feel hesitate in this situation. But when they have no solution to her problem then she shares her problem to a doctor but that is too late and they face more problem. So when you face a problem to your waist you should talk your doctor about corset. That is helpful or dangerous for you, after share all you know everything.

  6. I have also decided that an Edwardian corset (with a very rigid flat front) is not as comfortable for me as a Victorian corset with a less rigid or “dished” busk. I have not been x-rayed but I suspect I may have postural issues with the Edwardian.

Notice: corsets are always shipped Mon-Fri within 24 hours of ordering, sent by USPS Priority (~3 days in the US) - but if you need rush/overnight shipping, please email me! ~Lucy Dismiss