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Body Wraps: What to Expect

Can a Body Wrap Detox? continued...

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."

Can a Body Wrap Banish Cellulite?

Cellulite body wraps won't take away the dimpled skin, Ellis says. "The appearance can be better," she says. But even the best cellulite wrap ''does not suck out fat."

Tanzi agrees, saying the effect may improve someone's appearance for a while by plumping up the skin.

''I've had a few guests think they would lose inches of cellulite," says Isaac Guerrero, assistant spa director at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona, CA. "We have to explain that this is not what we claim. It's for moisturizing the skin. That's mainly what a lot of wraps are for."

Body Wraps: Avoiding Problems

If you have sensitive skin, beware of body wrap ingredients that have a lot of fragrance, Tanzi says. They could irritate your skin. She recommends asking about ingredients before choosing a wrap and says clay is less irritating to the skin than fragrant oils.

Fryhofer says to find out the ingredients of a body wrap beforehand if you are taking any prescription medications. Then, call your doctor to see if there are any problems. She says herbals can be absorbed through the skin and potentially affect some medications.

Also, think about if you're going to be comfortable in the wrap. Carney tells her clients ahead of time that she typically wraps a person mummy-like with arms at the sides.

''Be sure to stay hydrated,'' Fryhofer says. During a typical wrap, you can sweat a lot, so it's important to replenish the water in your body.

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