Body Wraps for Weight Loss: Do They Work?

Weight Loss Wraps
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The promise of losing inches without effort is hard to resist when you have little time to work out and specific body-shaping goals. That’s why the global weight-loss industry makes billions of dollars year after year selling items like body wraps.

You can find body wraps for weight loss at your local health spa and major online retailers, as well as your friends on social media. But do they work? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), if a weight-loss product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What Is a Body Wrap?

Though they’ve become popular in recent years, body wraps aren’t new. The use of body wraps dates back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Body wraps involve wrapping your body in a special bandage like a cloth or thermoplastic or some other material like seaweed or mud.

Purportedly, body wraps bolster the skin’s absorption and elimination process, benefiting your health and well-being. Body wraps are said to help detoxify, hydrate, and remineralize the body. Body wraps for weight loss contain herbs that are said to help you lose inches by burning fat and boosting metabolism. 

Types of Body Wraps 

Body wraps come in many types. These types contain different ingredients and may have different uses.

Herbal Wraps

Herbal wraps are a popular spa body wrap. Cloth wraps are soaked in herbal bath water or oil and applied to your skin. The purpose of herbal wraps is to make your skin firm and smooth. It also supposedly helps you lose inches and decreases the appearance of cellulite.

An herbal wrap typically starts with a body scrub. Then the wrap is applied to your skin and covered in a thermal blanket for about 30 minutes. Though the herbal mixture in these wraps varies, they often contain eucalyptus, rosemary, algae, and seaweed

Eucalyptus is used in natural cough medicine and topical agents for arthritis and wounds. Topically, rosemary is used to ease muscle aches and improve circulation. There’s no evidence that either one of these herbs helps tone the skin or burn fat.

While there is some evidence that eating algae or seaweed may help with weight loss, there’s no evidence that wrapping it around your skin has the same effects.

Plaster Body Wrap

A plaster body wrap contains green tea, green clay, calcium, magnesium, and sulfate. This type of body wrap for weight loss targets specific areas of the body that like to hold onto fat. The catechins in green tea are intended to increase your metabolism, while the green clay contains minerals that help burn fat.

According to a 2013 study published in Integrative Medicine Research, combining plaster body wrap with regular aerobic exercise helps reduce abdominal fat. However, it’s important to note that this study only included 19 female volunteers and there’s no other study like it. More research that includes a larger and more diverse group of people is needed to confirm that plaster body wraps support weight loss before claims can be made.

Infrared Light Body Wrap

Infrared light is a low-intensity light therapy (LLLT) used to heal wounds, ease pain, and boost mood. It also purportedly helps burn fat.

An infrared light body wrap is a device you wrap around any body part of your choice and leave it in place for up to two hours. According to the makers of the infrared light body wraps for weight loss, the light from the body wrap drains your fat cells and boosts your metabolism, helping you lose inches and weight.

However, the evidence to support the weight-loss benefits of an infrared light body wrap is limited and it’s not clear how the light therapy works, if it works at all.

What Research Says About Body Wraps

There’s very little evidence to support the purported weight-loss benefits of body wraps. The 2013 study on the plaster wrap notes that most studies regarding the weight-loss benefits of green tea and other nutrients are based on ingesting these products. The researchers suggest more studies are needed to understand if you get the same benefits when they’re applied to the skin.

The evidence that consuming certain drinks or nutrients helps with weight loss is mixed. Little is known about their effectiveness, but much is known about the potential harm of these weight-loss products, says the Office of Dietary Supplements.

According to weight-loss expert Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, “There is no scientific evidence that body wraps help you lose weight. Any positive results have been anecdotal, where it is not known what else that person may be doing to also help them lose weight. While it may cause you to lose a few pounds at that time, it is mainly due to temporary fluid loss from excessive sweating.”

Mitri also notes that body wraps for weight loss can quickly lead to dehydration if you’re not drinking enough water before and after. “They can also raise your core body temperature and cause your body to overheat.”

Body wraps are like going to the sauna and receiving a temporary fix, “you're sweating everything out for a short period of time, but it just comes right back shortly after,” says Mitri.

Tips for Losing Weight Safely

Weight loss isn’t easy and there’s no magic pill or body wrap that can help you reach your desired weight and stay there. Mitri notes, “I would instead recommend a balanced, healthy diet along with regular exercise to help support long-term weight loss.”

  • A balanced diet includes a healthy mix of foods from all the food groups: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and healthy vegetable fats. To maximize your nutrition without extra calories, make vegetables the focus of your meals. 
  • Ideally, you should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five days a week. Add strength training two days a week to build muscle and boost your metabolism.

Talk to a primary care provider or a registered dietitian for guidance. 

A Word From Verywell

Body wraps for weight loss may not live up to the hype. While they may make it appear to help you lose inches and tighten your skin, the results you see are due to dehydration, not real weight loss. And, your weight loss is temporary.

Instead of wasting money on weight-loss gimmicks, make an investment in yourself. Find ways to add more activity to your daily routine, eat balanced meals, make vegetables the focus of your meals, and drink more water. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the risks of using body wraps?

    Body wraps are generally safe. However, the herbs (green tea contains caffeine) or heat in some of the body wraps may increase heart rate or blood pressure. They may also cause dehydration, increase body core temperature, or lead to a skin rash. Body wraps aren’t recommended for pregnant women or people with diabetes or heart conditions.

  • Do body wraps help you lose weight?

    Body wraps are a temporary fix, causing you to sweat out water weight that comes right back. They don’t help you lose excess body fat. When it comes to weight-loss gimmicks and fads, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

13 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.

Edited by
Lily Moe
Lily Moe for Verywell Fit

Lily Moe is a former fitness coach and current Editor for Verywell Fit. A wellness enthusiast, she can often be found in a hot yoga studio, trying a new recipe, or going for a long run in Central Park.

Learn about our editorial process