With all the attention body wraps have been getting in the health and beauty industries, it’s natural to wonder, “Do body wraps work?” The answer is complicated and depends on exactly what kind of wrap you’re interested in, and what you expect from it.
Weight Loss Wraps
Weight loss wraps are the most popular type of wraps. Spas promise you’ll lose anywhere from 10 to 30 inches from a single hour-long wrap. First, you’re wrapped from head to toe in ace bandage-like cloths that have been treated with substances meant to detoxify your body. Then you’re asked to wear a heat-retaining plastic suit over the wraps. Some spas even ask you to exercise on a treadmill during your wrap, claiming that the exercise will draw the detoxifying agents even further in your body. In reality, the entire system is designed to sweat water weight out of your body. You will lose weight, but the weight loss will reverse the moment you re-hydrate. Doctors warn that weight loss wraps can result in dangerous levels of dehydration, especially if you’re asked to exercise during the process.
Spas claim that detoxifying wraps help cleanse your system, resulting in better health and a swifter metabolism. In reality, there’s no evidence that the substances used to cleanse your system have any beneficial effect at all. Doctors emphasize that the body has its own natural detoxifying systems, the liver and the kidneys, and fad detoxes aren’t necessary and can even be dangerous. Some detoxifying wraps even contain aluminum, which can be absorbed into the system through the skin, and which has been linked to age-related dementia.
During a moisturizing wrap, you’re swaddled head to toe in bandages treated with substances meant to moisturize and tone your skin. Unlike weight loss and detox wraps, moisturizing wraps do seem to have some beneficial effect, but this isn’t surprising, since moisturizing agents are applied directly to your skin. There is no evidence that moisturizing wraps provide any more benefit than daily moisturizing after showering.
In addition to the risk of dehydration during weight loss wraps and aluminum exposure during detox wraps, some people experience claustrophobia during the process. The substances contained in the treated cloths can also cause allergic reactions in some people. Test the wrap on a small patch of skin two days before your scheduled wrap.