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Body Wraps: What to Expect

Body Wrap Options

There are many body wraps, but Ellis says the main types are:

  • Moisturizing, which uses a variety of lotions and ingredients
  • Detox, which includes ingredients such as seaweed or mud that have more ''pulling'' action, according to Ellis
  • Slimming that use smaller strips of material wrapped tightly
  • Cellulite, which typically uses herbal remedies

Can a Body Wrap Detox?

The claim sounds good. But doctors say it's unsupported. "There's never been any real scientific evidence that body wraps pull out toxins or purify your body in any way," says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist.

Sandra Fryhofer, MD, past president of the American College of Physicians, agrees. "I don't know of any scientific basis for the detox," she says.

The extent of the ''detox'' claim varies from spa to spa. Carney of rA Organic Spa says the body wraps detox the skin of impurities. ''When your body sweats, you are detoxing your skin," she says, ''not your liver or your kidneys."

Tanzi says that might be true, but it depends on the product. "There are some benefits to, say, a clay body treatment," she says. "Those can pull out some impurities in the skin and the pores."

Tanzi has successfully used a clay-based mask for acne patients. But as for detox claims beyond that, forget it, doctors say.

Can a Body Wrap Slim You?

As for slimming wraps, "any loss of inches is going to be temporary,'' Fryhofer says. ''Wraps cannot take the place of a healthy diet and exercise."

Ellis agrees. "After you take the [slimming] wrap off, there will be an appearance of tightness," she says. "It is definitely temporary." It may only last a day or two.

But if you're trying to look good for a day at the beach on your honeymoon, temporary improvement may be good enough, Ellis says. "I look at those slimming wraps like a spray tan," she says. "It's temporary, but sometimes that's OK."

"They won't give you long-term weight loss," Tanzi says. "They can temporarily make you feel a little thinner, and when you look at the scale the pounds can go down a pound or two. But that's water weight loss. It's a temporary phenomenon."

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