Wetsuits shrink or stretch?

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Mine will shrink noticeable in as short a time-frame as 1 week if I happen to be on a LOB with really good food.

All joking aside though, yes wetsuits do "change" over time and usage. I had a Hyperstretch wetsuit and after a few years, it did become stretched and the neoprene became proportionately thinner as it stretched. As the neoprene became thinner, it also became significantly less effective at keeping me warm. It would be virtually impossible to predict how soon this would happen or to what degree, and it would depend on many factors including how much the wetsuit needs to stretch on each use, how often you dive, how high a quality the wetsuit/neoprene is and other things.
I have a Henderson Victory 7mm two piece that is 32 years old. I logged thirty dives with it back in the 1980's and then started rock climbing instead. I'm going back to diving this spring after a twenty eight year surface interval. The Henderson still looks like new and has been in a closet on a hanger waiting patiently. The neoprene had lost some of its stretch so I sprayed it with 303 Protectant and the stretch came back. The 303 Protectant gave me a wicked itchy skin rash so I rinsed out the suit and just put the 303 on the OUTSIDE ONLY. I still weigh the same as I did back then but am a little shorter so I'm a couple inches bigger around the middle. It's a slight struggle to get into the suit but when it's wet it loosens up so I think it will be fine for diving.
Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.
Wetsuits do change over time.
It’s fun to joke about gaining body weight as a cause for suits to “shrink”, but they actually do.

The rubber or blend used to make neoprene is blown with air or nitrogen. This gas actually holds the rubber it a state of stretched expansion by the tiny gas bubbles. As suits get used and compressed, uncomressed, compressed, and so on, the rubber gets worked and begins to break down and the gas starts to migrate out of the rubber. The gas bubbles slowly begin to escape from the rubber because rubber is not air tight. As a result the rubber begins to lose size both in thickness and in linear dimension because it was held in a stretched apart state from the injected bubbles.
As the gas leaves, the rubber retracts to it’s “normal” state. It also stiffens.
So no, it’s not your imagination and you’re not getting fat, your wetsuit is wearing out.
Nitrogen blown Rubatex G-231-N does the same thing, it just takes a lot longer. I know, I own two Rubatex suits.
Just put a caliper on that old Henderson. Still a full 1/4 inch after all these years. That closet it was in must slow down time. Maybe I'll start spending more time in there myself.:)
It is a little late at this point. 1/4" was an approximation in the first place, especially if a cloth layer was added on both sides. On my last suit, I measured 36" down the spine and tail with a yardstick. Rules it off with a permanent marker. Funny thing, it never measured 36" long after that first year. Nowhere near.
But then again...it wasn't Rubatex, either.

The problem is not just "air" or nitrogen blown. I may be out of date on this, but they were never "air blown". Either nitrogen was introduced to the liquid neoprene "batter", and then allowed to foam up as the mold was opened and exterior pressure released--the same as taking the top off a Coke bottle after you shake it--or, the big problem, was that most other material was made at much lower costs by simply mixing up "pancake batter" and letting the various chemicals foam and fizz on their own. Much less control of the process, and no way to tell how the chemicals would affect the rubber in the long term. Cheap caustic chemicals actually do attack the neoprene and break it down as it ages, it isn't just "gas leaking out".

At least, that's how Rubatex explained it to me some long years ago. Maybe by now they can use nanites to excavate the bubbles in the material.(G)
I guess as long as I can still fit in to it and it keeps me warm this spring diving off Gloucester Massachusetts that's what I'm hoping for. Just until I save up for a dry suit.:D
Dry suits aren't a panacea either. The tri-lam suits delaminate in five years, the heavy rubber like Viking are darn pricey. A buddy of mine went dry long ago, and he's forever chasing new seals for the neck and wrists and ankles. And a zipper every once in a while. Talk about "not a cheap date".

Me, I just don't feel comfortable with being underwater for an hour without ever touching the stuff. Makes me feel like I went for a Disney submarine ride. (Which would be great, if I HAD to be working in it everyday in all weather and conditions.)
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Dry suits aren't a panacea either.
They are here. With a wetsuit, the season of comfort on deeper wrecks in about a month. With a drysuit, it's more like 9 months. Twelve if you can be bothered.

I stole this pic from a friend's FB page. This is a site pretty much in front of my house in Tobermory.... last weekend. The little ditch you see there is from a a group diving there earlier in the week.

This is not wetsuit water.

Incidentally, the life of a drysuit is largely dependent on how the suit is looked after and stored, not used. Sunlight will kill them faster than a bed of urchins, so dry them inside and store then in a bag, away from sunlight and fluorescents.

When you’re buying your wetsuit it should fit just right, not loose and with just the right amount of tension so it’s not uncomfortable to don, zip up and breathe.

As others have pointed out over the years the suit will become less stretchable and may thin a bit so it will feel smaller even if you don’t gain weight.

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