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Body Wraps for Weight Loss: What Health Experts Need You to Know

Tempted to use a stomach wrap to lose weight? Read this first!

Body Wraps for Weight Loss: What Health Experts Need You to Know

If you're interested in trying body wraps for weight loss, you need to read this first.

Despite claims that they can work wonders for your waistline, the scientific evidence supporting stomach wraps is slim. While generally harmless, body wraps could have lasting effects—both physically and mentally—for a select few.

Curious if these wraps are worth it or just another weight-loss fad? Read on to discover whether you should roll with a stomach wrap or focus on long-term lifestyle changes.

Spoiler alert: The latter is likely, but let’s dive in!

Short Answer: Can You Use Body Wraps for Weight Loss?

Body wraps may work to promote a marginal amount of weight loss, but success is often short-lived and not achieved through sustainable weight loss practices. There’s no solid scientific evidence to support their use. Most claims come from user experiences, which can be helpful but don’t always prove a product’s effectiveness. Plus, wrap promoters may be using other methods to lose weight that aren’t evident. 

For this reason, and because of the wide variety of products available, credible diet and weight loss experts generally discourage using body wraps for weight loss. Instead, your healthcare team will likely favor lifestyle changes (like diet and exercise) to achieve longer-lasting results. 

In other words, body wraps are typically counted as another one of the many weight loss products on the market that may or may not work. Just because you can use them to lose weight doesn’t mean you should. 

Body Wraps for Weight Loss: How They Work

Body wraps, also known as stomach wraps, are usually wrapped around the belly or abdomen to boost fat loss in that area of the body. Although rare, wraps for the whole body or other body areas, like thighs, are available. Treatments differ, but the wrappings are usually applied for 20–60 minutes, although some treatments may last up to 90 to 120 minutes. 

The desired result? Wraps are marketed to lose weight or lose inches around the waist. The exact methods of accomplishing this are unclear, but often wraps recommended to be worn while exercising claim that they cause an increase in core body temperature, which may cause you to start losing “water weight” by sweating more. 

Other common allegations or reasons wraps are used include: 

• For stress relief 
• For a slimming effect 
• To “detox” (detoxify) the skin or body 
• To reduce the appearance of cellulite 
• To smooth the skin 

Many types of body wraps are available, from “DIY” homemade wraps to pricier spa offerings. Some common kinds of wraps include: 

• Cloth wraps (including those soaked in herbs)
• Heat wraps, or wraps with a heating element or cream-infused 
• Infrared wraps (a type of light therapy)
• “Natural” wraps (like seaweed or mud)
• Neoprene wraps
• Plastic wraps 

Some wraps include added or infused ingredients, such as herbs, essential oils, or clay. Although these are often touted to accelerate weight loss further, some brands simply use them to help promote a more spa-like, relaxing, and stress-relieving experience. 

Especially in a spa setting, some body wrap treatments are paired with other techniques. For example, some facilities may provide massages, saunas, or exercise classes that can be participated in while wearing the body wrap. 

Risks of Stomach Wraps to Lose Weight 

Even though wraps may seem promising, they aren’t without side effects. Dangers to both mental and physical health exist, and it’s essential to be aware of the disadvantages before using body wraps. 


The risk of dehydration may be the most significant side effect of stomach wraps. Since wearing a wrap while exercising may increase the amount of sweat leaving the body, this can put you at risk for dehydration, especially if you’re not replenishing fluids while losing “water weight.”


Wraps are often tightly wound around the waist. While this may not initially seem problematic, a body wrap applied too tightly (to the stomach or any other body area) can affect circulation. 

In severe cases, hypovolemic shock can occur. This type of shock happens when the body’s organs are deprived of blood and oxygen and consequently begin to function poorly or even shut down. Understandably, this emergency condition may have you second-guessing whether a slimmer waist is worth risking your life. 

Skin Irritation 

Any added ingredients, even “natural” ones, may cause skin irritation. It’s essential to inquire about what exact materials are used in your wrap to help avoid any unwanted skin issues. 

Keep in mind that temperature may change how some chemicals and substances react, and temperature may affect the skin. So, asking about any hot or cold techniques used as part of your wrap application is always a good idea. 

Mental Health 

Becoming reliant on a body wrap for results can certainly affect mental health. Stomach wraps are often marketed as a sort of “magic pill” without providing lasting results. It’s not uncommon for wrap users to also be yo-yo dieters, or individuals who experience back-to-back cycles of weight loss and regain (often by participating in the latest fad diet or trending weight loss technique).

Body wraps may also affect vulnerable populations, like people who struggle with eating disorders, negatively. Ultimately, using a body wrap may make you more likely to focus or fixate on weight, appearance, or inch loss and less likely to engage in genuinely healthy habits—like diet and exercise—that can benefit your body and mind. 

Sketchy Science

The “evidence” supporting body wraps is often sponsored by the very same companies marketing them. This makes it hard to tell fact from fiction and can trick even the most conscious consumers. 

The available science, such as a study on plaster wraps, is often conducted with small groups and hard-to-access materials. And not to mention, much of it is outdated. In other words, the isolated success stories are difficult to apply to (and probably shouldn’t be used to) the general population. 

Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warn against using products claiming to cause rapid weight loss. Even FDA-approved weight management devices are designed to be combined with healthy lifestyle changes. 

Approach any evidence in support of body wraps with caution, and don’t hesitate to contact trusted healthcare providers with your concerns. Also, remember that these products aren’t usually intended for pregnant or lactating women, children, or individuals with an underlying health condition. 

Should You Use Body Wraps for Weight Loss?

Here’s the bottom line: It’s ultimately up to you to choose whether you can use body wraps. However, experts suggest that short-term benefits aren’t worth the serious risks. 

A healthy diet and regular exercise are still considered the “gold standard” for weight loss, and can provide long-lasting results. Plus, diet and exercise are low-risk lifestyle measures for healthy individuals, and engaging in healthy lifestyle habits is a much safer way to pursue your weight loss goals. 

If you’re skeptical about exercise, start slow with a more gentle form of exercise (like walking or yoga), and increase your stamina over time. Pick physical activities you genuinely enjoy, such as dancing!

The same advice applies if you’re worried about eating a healthy diet. Start slow, with small chances, and focus on introducing more nutritious foods into your diet that you genuinely like (such as your favorite type of fruit or vegetable). Don’t forget that meal delivery is an option, and bistroMD offers weight loss meal plans to fit any lifestyle

Diet and exercise work because they engage fat cells and tissues on a cellular level and contribute to helping your body make changes in the way it uses and stores energy. Unlike body wraps, diet and exercise aren’t just “skin deep” or focused on changes in appearance. Instead, diet, exercise, and other healthy habits (like getting enough sleep) work to heal weight loss problems at the root rather than providing a “band-aid” fix. 

To those currently relying on wraps or weekly body wrap sessions for stress relief, consider replacing your regular spa session with a new stress-relieving routine. For instance, signing up for a weekly class at your gym or setting up a regular appointment with your therapist may do just as much (or more) for your mental health. 

Body Wraps for Weight Loss: The Wrap Up

There’s much debate about whether the body wrap works and to what extent. Most success stories aren’t backed by science, and results are often short-lived and appearance-focused.

Luckily, lifestyle changes—like diet and exercise—can make a real, lasting difference. 

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