Jul 21 2008 7:49pm

A Beauty Treatment I Am Unlikely Ever To Have

This is not exactly related to science, but on the other hand, not entirely sure which other blogger here would handle it, so:

Yearning for a pedicure but tired of the usual emery boards and flensing razors? Why not let tiny fish devour your toe flesh instead?

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the Washington D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.

Apparently you put your tootsies in the water and the fish come up and start snacking on your dead skin. They leave your live skin alone because they don't have teeth, and therefore cannot strip your feet to the bone like they want to.

<Simpson Reference> Because, make no mistake, Timmy. If given half a chance, these tiny fish would kill you and everyone you know. </Simpson Reference>

There's a picture of the fish in action at the article if you want to squick yourself out.

I've never had the urge for a pedicure (living the soft, easy life of a writer I have no feet calluses to speak of, which means I win), but if I did, I don't think allowing vertebrates to consume portions of my body while I am still alive is the way I would want to go about it. Call me an atavist.

The article mentions that the fish treatment has been so successful that the spa owner wants to offer a full body treatment using the fish. Hey, you first, pal.

(Picture above by Terry Goss, used under CC license. Knicked from here)


Samantha Brandt
1. Talia
Sounds like this spa treatment really bites.
Jeff Soules
2. DeepThought
Hrm... reminds me of the medical use of maggots.

Like many a self-confident man, I like a nice soft pair of feet; and surely this couldn't feel that much weirder than having your fingers licked by a persistent kitten... right?

Dunno if I'd be willing to shell out for it, though.
Tzut Tzut
3. WillieMcBride
That's another irrefutable evidence of the irreversible decadence of Western Civilization.

Or maybe not.
Gabriele Campbell
4. G-Campbell
Fish are used in case of skin diseases that way, but I'm not surprised the beauty industry would jump on it sooner or later.

I'm going to keep my callouses; I love walking barefoot too much. ;)
John Scalzi
5. Scalzi

Ironically, I think medicinal use of maggots is kind of cool, although it would definitely squick me out to do it. But on the other hand, if I was at the point where medicinal maggots were a viable option for my issues, I've have a whole boatload of problems. The footie fish feed, by contrast, is strictly optional.
6. Nate
The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.

"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.

This is like a scene from a filmstrip about "Hygiene problems in the 22nd century"
Jason Erik Lundberg
7. jelundberg
Spas in Singapore have been offering this treatment since sometime last year, and I gotta say, I'm intrigued. However, I'm also incredibly ticklish, and don't know how long I'd be able to last before jumping out of the water and squealing like a little girl because of teh nibbles.

Maggot therapy has been around for thousands of years, but is just now seeing a resurgence thanks to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And yeah, basically at the point that you'd need them, your flesh is rotting, so you've got some serious problems.
Gabriele Campbell
8. G-Campbell
I'd have no problems to let the wee fishies deal with some skin problem. But maggots? Well, if it was the only way ...

Better than cobwebs, after all. Now, that's a treatment I'm glad has been replaced by iodine spray and bandaid.
Dave Hughes
9. Inhibitor
If I ever reach the point where my feet are bothering me to an extent that I'll allow flesh-eating fish to fillet them orally, I can only hope that I will retain the self-control to scale back my urges for long enough to realize that something is fishy, and not take the bait.

(I tried to not write this, really I did...but sometimes, you just can't resist.)
Jan Vaněk jr.
10. JVjr
Actually, Scalzi (um, does this make me sound like a teacher or what?), what you wrote means that you didn't rule out allowing invertebrates to consume portions of your body while still live even for optional stuff like pedicure.
11. BarryD
Does this mean that the next step is to use some sort of burrowing worm/other hideous thing to replace liposuction?
Foz Meadows
13. Foz_Meadows
Well, crocodiles have those little birds that clean their teeth, whales and sharks have remora, buffalo have birds that groom their backs - so why not fish that clean people? Given how insane most beauty treatments are (suck fat out, inject fat in, insert plastic bosoms) the idea of feeding some fish and incidentally getting a pedicure sounds almost...relaxing. Probably hurts less than using pumice, come to that.
Paul Abbamondi
14. pabba
So long as they never swap out the fishies for piranhas then this might be okay one day. Like when my memory is going or my eyesight has failed me completely...
15. kouredios
Huh. My dog licks my feet sometimes, but I always thought he was after the salt, not the dead skin... I wonder if I can get him to give me a full pedicure.
Laurel Amberdine
16. amberdine
Pffft. Wuss. :) They're tiny little fishies! Better than a dude with a razor blade!

It sounds fun, but I figure if I got all my calluses removed I'd just develop a zillion new blisters. Oh well.
Elise Matthesen
17. LionessElise
I would totally do the fish pedicure thing. They don't seem to have them in Minnesota, though. Darn.

If I get to Virginia any time soon, I'll do it and report back, OK?
Larry Scroggins
18. LeisureSuitLarry
I can has lolshark?

I'm not likely to get something like this done, mostly because having little fishies pecking at my feet is likely to tickle. I hate being tickled.
Christopher Hawley
19. chawley650
Scalzi wrote: Ironically, I think medicinal use of maggots is kind of cool, although it would definitely squick me out to do it.
Ditto- even though I know that maggots have got to be safer than fish*, it's hard to believe that they could be less toxic, let alone as clean.

* And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. &lt;/Good Omens&gt;
Alan Kellogg
20. mythusmage
And every day there are billions of teeny spiders living in your pores eating your skin. The question is not, how long until you become a meal? The question is, how long have you been a meal.?

Old Man's Diners, the story of the micro fauna eating the hero of Old Man's War.
Diane Duane
21. dianeduane
Is this (fishy) behavior really all that new or surprising? I remember little tropical fish materializing to do the pickypickypicky thing on my feet years ago when I was standing off a coral beach in the Virgin Islands. ...Tickled a little. But I immediately surmised that dead skin was what they were after.
Paul Arzooman
22. parzooman
One question: When did we become The Flintstones?
Debbie Moorhouse
23. GUDsqrl
My cat licks my feet. She's only looking for the softest places to bite, tho'!
24. Melissa Ann Singer
I would do it; I think it's keen.

I saw it on I Survived a Japanese Game Show a couple of weeks back and it doesn't seem to tickle that much or be uncomfortable at all given the responses of the people who were having their feet nibbled.

They were in a communal pool there and one of the women did attract a majority of the fish. The others were a little miffed.
William S. Higgins
25. higgins
Parzooman writes:

One question: When did we become The Flintstones?

At a guess, when B.F. Skinner tried to teach pigeons to peck at a picture of a battleship, in order to train them to guide missiles?
Claire Eddy
26. ceddy
Whatever happened to pumice stone?

The idea of maggots is one I try not to think about. But as mentioned above, if you need them then you Really Need Them.

Leeches on the other hand...

28. LJWM
See, I think it's kind of a neat idea, myself. Although I am pretty ticklish. Still, I'm kind of perturbed by the article I initially read, which said that the spa owner was looking for an alternative after razor blades fell out of favor due to hygiene concerns.

Now, I can see the fish being gentler, more thorough, less likely to cut your feet, and certainly more entertaining. I can't see them being cleaner unless the spa was doing a really bad job cleaning their razor blades. You can wash a razor blade in soap and water, or dunk it in alcohol, or autoclave it. You can't DO that to a fish between customers.
Christina Harcar
29. spotgloss
Just in terms of risk-management, I think I'd rather have a fish-icure than a botox injection. All the comments about maggot therapy remind me of the opening scenes of ROOTS (the book) where Kunta Kinte's grandmother uses biting ants to hold the edges of a scar together, then twists off their heads, leaving only their pincers as staples. Basically, I'm intrigued any time we get nature to perform tasks for us....
hi gorishawn
30. gorishawn
However you look at it, it appears that this kind of treatment is here to stay. Just visited Singapore and Malaysia and LO! So many "reputable" spas are offering this treatment.

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