N E W Y O R K, July 26 -- Body wrap spas offer the allure of shedding inches off your waistline and are an increasingly popular beauty procedure. But critics say the only thing you're guaranteed to lose is money.
Consumer correspondent Greg Hunter found the mummy-like procedure might not live up to its promises. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration Web site says body wraps can be dangerous.
One spa that offers the body wraps, Suddenly Slender Body Wraps, boasts that body wrappers can get a trimmer body by getting it wrapped with bandages soaked in minerals. Its ads guarantee that body-wrapped patrons will lose 6 to 20 inches from various body measurements in their first one-hour wrap.
"It's not uncommon to take someone down a dress size or two in two weeks," said Victoria Morton, who founded Suddenly Slender and says she has 1,300 franchises worldwide. But experts say the wraps can cause severe dehydration and circulatory problems.
"It's all pseudoscientific gobbledygook," said Dr. Victor Herbert, a doctor at Mt. Sinai Veterans Research Center who is also on the board of Quackwatch, an organization that debunks false medical claims. He says any weight loss that results from getting a body wrap is temporary, because it is water loss.
Doctor Claims Wraps Dehydrate
"Be 6 to 20 inches slimmer today by dehydrating yourself? Sure," Herbert said. "And you can also kill yourself … because you can throw somebody into what we call hypovolemic shock. That's low blood volume shock by dehydrating you."
But Morton insists the wraps do not just remove water.
"It's the waste! The stuff that builds up in the body and makes us old and makes us tired and quite frankly, makes us sick," she said.
One of Morton's operations came under legal scrutiny several years ago. In 1998, the Texas Attorney General's office said that one of Morton's Texas franchises made false and misleading representations. Morton agreed not to make unsubstantiated medical claims, and paid a $35,000 fine to the state of Texas, without admitting any wrongdoing.