When it comes to losing weight, there’s definitely not a shortage of ways to go about it. From extreme diets to the latest fitness craze, Americans are desperate to drop their pounds. So, it’s no wonder that new products hit the market every day.

Body wraps are one of the more popular products claiming to help you lose inches, drop weight, and tone up your loose skin.

But how can a wrap do all of that? We explain what you need to know.

Like most weight loss products, body wraps claim to be “the answer” to your battle with the bulge. And depending on the type of wrap, the claims range from losing a few pounds and inches in 30 to 90 minutes, to several dress sizes over a longer period of time.

While they can make your skin feel nice and smooth, the idea that a body wrap can whittle away inches from your waist or thighs is debatable.

Most of the claims are anecdotal and come from people who have tried using body wraps for weight loss. It can be difficult to trust these results because you don’t know what other methods they’re using to lose weight at the same time.

Some people use a neoprene body wrap, which is similar to wrapping plastic wrap around your mid-section. The makers of these wraps claim that you lose weight by increasing your core body temperature. In other words, you sweat a lot — especially if you wear it while exercising.

This can cause you to lose water weight, so if you hop on the scale immediately after using one, the number may be less than it was the day before.

But is this even safe? Not necessarily.

Here’s why: When you sweat, your body loses fluids. If you’re not replacing those fluids you can become dehydrated. Plus, raising your core body temperature can lead to overheating, which isn’t always safe.

Other types of body wraps

Other methods of using body wraps include treatments you can get at a spa. The person applying the wrap may be a massage therapist or esthetician, but they can also just be an employee trained in using these wraps. There are many different types of body wraps used at spas, including:

  • heat wraps that require you to apply heat cream on your skin and then wrap your body with a plastic film
  • slimming wraps that use lotions or topical herbal products
  • infrared body wraps
  • “detoxing” wraps with ingredients that are said to pull toxins out of your skin

Strips of material that are covered in herbal ingredients are wrapped tight and pulled around your body in an attempt to detox your system. These topical herbs are said to decrease inches and rid your body of cellulite.

Once the wrap is taken off, your skin may have a tighter appearance. This can be one of the reasons people think body wraps work for weight loss. But unfortunately, this side effect is often temporary.

The majority of evidence that exists comes directly from the companies that market these wraps. There’s very little — if any — unbiased research or studies about the effectiveness of body wraps for weight loss.

You can purchase DIY body wraps from private sellers or visit a spa that uses them. If you use a body wrap at home, make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you plan on wearing it while you exercise. Follow all of the instructions and don’t use the wrap for longer than it’s intended for.

Many of the luxury spa and DIY body wraps are herbal wraps that you can use on specific parts of your body such as your stomach or as a full-body wrap. The wraps are applied and left on your skin for a certain amount of time. Some of the neoprene wraps are left on for longer periods of time.

The wraps that require you to exfoliate before applying usually stay on for a shorter period of time (30-90 minutes). These body wraps often have ingredients such as mud, clay, herbs, and creams or lotions.

Once the time limit is reached, the wrap comes off, you rinse your skin, and apply a moisturizer.

If you’re going to try one of these body wraps, there are some things you should know before you wrap yourself up.

  • If the wrap has any herbal ingredients, exfoliants, or moisturizers, you need to know what they are and if they’re safe for you to use.
  • Since many of these wraps require you or a spa employee to tightly wrap the material around your body, you may have some unpleasant side effects from the compression.
  • The risk of becoming dehydrated is also likely since body wraps work to increase your internal core temperature. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • There’s no evidence that a body wrap will help you lose weight. While you may be down a few pounds after using one, this is mainly due to water loss. As soon as you hydrate and eat, the number on the scale will go right back up.
  • The only proven way to lose weight is through proper diet and adequate exercise.

The bottom line is this: While your skin may feel smooth and soft after a body wrap treatment, the odds of you experiencing long-lasting weight loss after a few wrap sessions aren’t in your favor.