Bleeding muscles, nerve damage, heartburn, ulcers, varicose veins. The scary proof that skinny jeans should come with a health warning Super-tight skinny jeans are the height of fashion statements Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and Kate Middleton are all big fans But doctors have issued warnings about shocking injuries they can cause As designs get tighter, wearers are putting themselves at ever greater risk The term ‘fashion victim’ has never seemed so apt. News of a 35-year-old woman having to be cut out of a pair of skinny jeans after her legs swelled and she lost feeling in her ankles left many of us lunging for our loosest-fitting, baggiest clothes. The woman had spent hours wearing the ultra-tight trousers while crouching to clear out cupboards and found that, by evening, her feet were numb and she was unable to stand. She collapsed and was taken to hospital, where she was put on an intravenous drip. But it was too late: her muscles had become so weak that she couldn’t walk for four days. Being injured by your skinny jeans may seem laughable, but doctors — writing about the case this week in the Journal Of Neurology, Neurosurgery And Psychiatry — have issued a grave warning about the shocking effects these super-slim trousers can have on your health. Beloved of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, and even the Duchess of Cambridge, skinny jeans are so-called because they cling to every inch of the leg, tapering to show off the wearer’s trim, shapely limbs. They’re almost impossible to get on, even harder to peel off — and leave wearers with a gait remarkably similar to John Wayne. Yet recent fashions have called for even tighter designs, made from unforgiving, figure-hugging fabric, meaning fans of the skinny effect are squeezing more perilously snugly than ever into skintight trousers. To some, it’s a ludicrous look endured by those who’ll sacrifice anything in the name of fashion — akin to the discomfort of wearing a corset or G-string — but experts caution that the pain caused by skinny jeans should not be ignored. Leading chiropractor Tim Hutchful, from the British Chiropractic Association, says the side-effects of skinny jeans can be felt from the back to the ankles. ‘Very tight trousers can reduce blood flow in the lower limbs,’ he says. ‘This can make your body ache, a bit like having a stitch while doing exercise, because your muscles need more oxygen than your body is able to give them. ‘Sitting or squatting compresses your body even more, intensifying the effect. People need to be aware of the potential risks.’ Muscles can be damaged internally, too. If worn for a long time — between 12 and 16 hours — the jeans may cause a condition called ‘compartment syndrome’ in the legs. This occurs when an enclosed bundle of muscles starts to bleed or swell, building up pressure under the skin and causing the area to throb. Even when the muscles are released — by removing or cutting off the jeans — the discomfort can remain for days on end, limiting movement and dulling feeling in the legs. Alison Roberts, 41, an office manager from Slough, Berkshire, and self-confessed skinny jean obsessive, knows this agony only too well. ‘I wore a pair of black skinny jeans on a nine-hour flight to Kenya,’ she says. ‘They were brand new, so they were skintight, and I did notice some numbness around my ankles before we boarded.’ During the flight, the loss of feeling started to spread up her legs. ‘I panicked and undid the buttons and zip of my jeans, but that didn’t make any difference. My calves felt as if they were pulsating; my legs got really warm and itchy. ‘Finally, at the airport, I limped to the loo and tried to peel the jeans down. My legs had ballooned on the flight and they were stuck. ‘I eventually had to use nail scissors to cut them off.’ Worryingly, that wasn’t the end of her anguish. ‘As my legs began to regain feeling, things got even worse,’ she says. ‘The pain was excruciating. I’ve never felt anything like it. ‘I couldn’t walk properly for the next few days and was so concerned that I went to see a doctor, who told me I’d damaged my muscles. I’ve never worn skinny jeans again.’ It sounds nightmarish, but worse still is a nerve condition called meralgia paresthetica — known as ‘tingly thigh syndrome’ — which has been reported among wearers. A 2012 study of 2,000 British men found that one in ten have experienced an unpleasant health effect from wearing skinny jeans, ranging from groin discomfort to incontinence. ‘Wearing tight-fitting clothing over a prolonged time can lead to urinary tract infections, leading to over-activity of the bladder as well as a low sperm count and fungal infections,’ says GP Dr Hilary Jones. ‘I have seen several cases of men who have twisted their testicles due to wearing jeans that are far too tight.’ In 1995, another study found a correlation between tight jeans and men with abnormal sperm, suggesting a link with infertility.