It can be alarming to notice that your underwear leaves pronounced indentations in the skin about your waistline.

Congestive heart failure often causes edema.

Even not-so-tight panties can cause this, and the more patterned the underpants, the more intricate the indentations in your skin!

Does this mean edema from congestive heart failure?

After all, people with heart failure (failure of the heart muscle to pump blood in an efficient manner) often develop edema.

When people have pathological edema, you can press your fingertip into their skin for a few seconds, release it, and see an impression – that just lingers.

This is called pitting edema, and it can linger for several minutes. This is not normal, though not everyone with pitting edema has a heart condition either.

Can heart failure cause one’s underpants to create indents in their skin?

“In rare circumstances,” says Jenepher Piper, a family practice nurse practitioner for Maryland Family Care for 25+ years and a former nurse with Home Care Nurse for Johns Hopkins Home Care.

Piper adds, “Edema would have to be profound to extend this high.”

If you have profound edema that’s extending to the height of your waist, believe me, you will probably already have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure or some other serious problem like kidney failure.

Furthermore, people who develop edema in their waist area from congestive heart failure or kidney problems will also have very visible edema in their legs.

Edema in the waist or abdominal region is not to be equated with excess fat (love handles, muffin top).


Anasarca is a type of edema or swelling that involves the entire body. A heart problem and diabetes can cause this, but by the time it does, you will know that you’re as sick as a dog.

Underwear that leaves impressions in your skin does not mean you have anasarca, heart failure, diabetes or some other malady.

Wear looser underwear, but if it doesn’t require tight panties to cause skin indents, you still should NOT worry!

Piper explains that the human body is 50 to 60 percent water in an average size adult, and this percentage is higher in overweight people.

The elastic band of underwear will “displace water in the tissue, like a handprint in a memory foam mattress,” says Piper. The indents will eventually work their way out.

Nurse PiperPatients suffering from conditions such as coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes turn to Nurse Practitioner Piper to help them best manage their overall health.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 

When Those Scary Sock Indentations Don’t Mean Edema

Do Skin Indents from Underwear or Pants Mean a Heart Problem?

Can Tight Socks Cause Edema?

Does Watchband Indentation in Skin Mean a Medical Problem ?

Can Menopause Cause Bilateral Edema in the Ankles & Calves?

Bilateral Ankle Edema: Causes when Tests Are Normal

Benign Causes of Both Ankles Being Swollen & Puffy and Treatment

Swelling in Both Ankles: Can’t Find Cause?

Cause of Mild Ankle Edema when All’s Been Ruled Out