Friday, August 22, 2008

Fish turn into beauty experts at Chennai salon

Chennai, Aug 21 (ANI): After gaining popularity in China, Japan and other countries, fish pedicure has emerged as a new age beauty treatment for tired souls in Chennai.

Moving around in a tub of warm water, numerous small fish nibble at dead skin, leaving hands and feet shiny and smooth.

Deviating from the usual, a fish pedicure or manicure offers a unique ticklish and lively experience to those who indulge in it.

NIBBLE, NIBBLE It’s the fish at work on your feet

"A pedicure is not a very enjoyable experience, the normal pedicure. We wanted to make it much more enjoyable and fun loving for people. We thought that when they come here. They should enjoy and have a good experience. We wanted to give them a lively experience and through fish pedicure we have been able to give them that," said Rahim, Director, Naturals Salon and Spa.

The idea behind the fish spa was to find a replacement for scrubbers used for pedicures and manicures. A fish called 'Garra Rufa' or 'Doctor Fish' is used for these beauty treatments.

These fish nibble away at the dead skin on the hands and feet as the hot water in which they thrive doesn't support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available, including dead, flaking skin and this is what gave the idea to start this unique beauty treatment.

They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can't bite it off.

Fish pedicure and manicure has already created quite a stir in the city with hordes of people coming in to try them out.

For the first timers, the experience might have been a little scary, but they come out all full of praise after letting the 'Garra Rufa' nibble away at their feet and hands.

"Initially, it's a bit scary. It's a very nice feeling. Before I used to keep coming for the normal pedicure and manicure, now I keep coming for this because it's different. It's like entertainment when you see those fishes doing it," said Ankeera, a customer.

The fish don't do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.

Fish therapy or fish pedicure originated in Turkey where these fish were first used to provide temporary relief to patients affected with psoriasis. By Jai Kumar (ANI)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Fish pedicures become a trendy spa treatment

Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 (EST)

A treatment offered by a northern Virginia spa that lets flesh-eating carp eat away the dead skin on your feet has customers hooked.

A northern Virginia spa has been offering a treatment that lets flesh-eating carp eat away
the dead skin on your feet. Photo Credit: CBS

July 22, 2008 (Sawf News) - A treatment offered by a northern Virginia spa that lets flesh-eating carp eat away the dead skin on your feet has customers hooked.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," says John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife.

The pedicure using the garra rufa, or doctor fish, first became popular in Turkey and then moved on to Asia.

Ho claims he chanced upon the treatment while looking for an alternative to the use of razors to scrape off the dead skin, a practice now frowned upon by state regulators because of sanitary concerns.

To begin with he was skeptical the fish would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath, but he chose to try it out and let his customers decide for themselves.

It did not take long for the customers to get hooked.

The treatment costs $45 for 15 minutes of sticking your feet in the fish tank.

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Somefin to touch your sole

Aug 3 2008 by Nathan Bevan, Wales On Sunday

HAVE you heard about this new beauty therapy where people stick their feet in warm water to have them nibbled by tiny, hungry fish?

No? Well I promise you that’s what’s happening.

In America (where else!) garra ruffa – a toothless water dweller known as “doctor fish” (that’s one of the nippers above) – nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched.

Unsightly calluses will be a thing of the past and they’re even thought to cure psoriasis.

But, apparently, even people who don’t have anything wrong with their feet are going along to have a session with their tootsies in the tank, purely because of their love of fish.

Just for the halibut, as it were.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Psoriasis Treatment With Doctor Fish

By Evelyn Lim

It sure sounds like a fishy tale but it seems true. There is a type of "live" fish called doctor fish that you can use for psoriasis treatment. For this treatment, you allow the fish to feed on the affected part of your skin. The more dead skin your have, the more these tiny fishes will come to you. Doctor fish is also known scientifically as Garra rufa.

The practice of using doctor fish to treat itchy skin was first used in the small towns of Kangal and Sivas in Turkey, where the fish are endemic. The spa in Kangal has been a psoriasis treatment centre since 1988. With no apparent cure for this disabling skin disorder, people from all parts of the world flock here for psoriasis treatment. Here, they get their first experience with the doctor fish nibbling away at their skin. Although psoriasis is the most widely known skin disorder treated here, dermatitis, eczema and most other itchy skin conditions also benefit well from the treatment.

The doctor fish have large appetites, as the high 36°C water temperature cannot produce enough nutrients for them. So they would get into a feeding frenzy when they come across scabby skin. The older and thicker your affected skin is, the more delicious it is to them.

However, not to worry. The fish apparently only loves dead skin. They will leave your healthy skin alone. The result? Those who experience having doctor fish to treat itchy skin emerge from the water with healthy, glowing, fully buffed skin.

If you would like to give it a go, then this is what you need to do at the spa: immerse yourself in the pool eight hours a day for 21 days. Before having breakfast each day, you are supposed to drink a minimum of three glasses of healing water on an empty stomach. You are also not allowed to take other medicine or medication during the period.

It is said that their mouths are made for licking and nibbling away the psoriatic plaques and scaly skin. The saliva in the mouths of doctor fish is the vital element in the treatment; others also credit the selenium-rich waters (1 gram per liter concentration) of the spa plus the high altitude Turkish sunshine (ultraviolet is beneficial for psoriasis treatment). The effects are temporary; psoriasis treatment using doctor fish to help is by no means a cure. However, the results of having doctor fish to treat itchy skin can last for a few months.

Some of those who have experienced this unconventional psoriasis treatment have gone on to
set up their own doctor fish spas in other countries. You can now find spas with doctor fish to
treat itchy skin in Germany, Ireland, and Austria. There are doctor fish spas in Asia such as
Japan. One other benefit when you go to these spas for psoriasis treatment is the chance to
interact and bond with other psoriasis sufferers. Having psoriasis can be a depressing affair
but it sure helps to know that you are not alone.

Evelyn Lim publishes a newsletter on Eczema Natural Treatment. Thousands have read her articles and her story from ailing to healing skin. Gain access to free tips, her story and reviews on natural skin care products here at

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Kiss my feet

Hilary McArthur
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

swim around Natalie Wilburn's feet, massaging and gently nibbling away dry ...

"It's like putting your feet in champagne," said Glynn Anderholm, a first-time user of the Dr. Fish Spa treatment, as I hesitantly approached spa pools filled with hundreds of innocent little fish.

Finally finding the courage to plunge my feet into the warm, bubbling water of my own personal pool, I waited, anxiously, for the feasting.

Fish swarmed my feet - I couldn't even see my toes - but why had I been so afraid?

For the next 20 minutes, it felt as if gentle rain droplets were massaging my feet.

John Ho and Yvonne Le, owners of Yvonne's Hair & Nails day spa south of Alexandria since 1997, recently introduced the idea of using toothless fish as agents to beautify the skin by nibbling away dead skin cells.

"There is nothing that can get the skin as soft and smooth as these gentle fish," Mr. Ho says. "Nothing that can compare to the results after the treatment."

Naima Ouzidane (above, left) and her daughter-in-law Jessica Ouzidane step into a pool of toothless garra rufa fish from Turkey for the first time at Yvonne's Hair & Nails day spa south of Alexandria.

Turkish villagers first discovered the benefits of these friendly fish in the 1800s while dipping themselves into hot springs. The garra rufa fish have been famous in Turkey ever since for effectively treating psoriasis, eczema and even burns.

However, at Yvonne's, the little nibblers are used to exfoliate and massage one's feet - a relaxing treatment that is fast becoming a favorite at the spa.

"Here, we reinvented the idea into a spa pedicure so that after one uses it, they have extremely smooth skin," Mr. Ho says. "We are the only fish spa in the United States that provides this service. Nobody can copy this treatment without my approval, because I have a service mark called Dr. Fish Massage Inc."

Mr. Ho specially orders the fish through his broker in China. They are then shipped from Turkey. Once the fish arrive, they can live up to five years in the man-made hot springs Mr. Ho concocts especially for them.

"The water chemistry has to be right," he explains. "They originally live in hot springs, which is spring water. Therefore, I have to add a lot of chemicals to get rid of all the hard metals."

Mr. Ho insists that each pool is thoroughly cleaned after each use. The little creatures are taken out with a hand-held net. Next, the water is drained, and finally, the porcelain tub is disinfected with sanitizing chemicals.

"We have never had as many customers as we have now," Mr. Ho says. "Also, we have more men than we have ever had before - including military men as well." (Laugh at the image if you want, but can you think of any feet that deserve it more?)

Oh, and did I mention that there is complimentary food every Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.? It was fresh strawberries with homemade spring rolls the day I visited.

"Last week, it was beef with a homemade teriyaki sauce," Mr. Ho says with delight.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Flesh-eating fish give pedicures

By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 11:46AM BST 22 Jul 2008

The toothless fish nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched Photo: AP

Owners of Yvonne Hair and Nails in Alexandria, a suburb of Washington DC, estimate 5,000 customers have so far tried the unorthodox treatment, in which customers immerse their feet in warm water filled with tiny, voracious carp.

The toothless fish, termed garra rufa but known as “doctor fish”, nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched, providing what advocates say is a natural alternative to potentially unsanitary razors, clippers or pumice stones.

John Ho, who owns the salon with wife Yvonne, said he was initially sceptical about offering the technique, which is popular in spas in Turkey, where the fish come from, as well as parts of Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.

”I know people were a little intimidated at first,” he told the Associated Press. “But I just said, 'Let's give it a shot.' “

But customers flocked to try the treatment and as word spread the salon's Dr Fish Massage was featured on local radio and Tyra Banks' television talk show.

Tracy Roberts, 33, described it as “the best pedicure I ever had” and said it marked “the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely.”

After the fish have spent up to 30 minutes chewing away hard skin - there are about 100 to every tank - customers receive a standard pedicure.

A similar treatment was featured in an episode of Ugly Betty last year when Wilhelmina Slater, played by Vanessa Williams, had a pedicure that included soaking her feet in water full of fish.

Mr Ho, who spent 40,000 dollars setting up the pedicures, is hoping to extend the service to eventually offer full-body treatments that could treat skin conditions such as psoriasis.

For some ticklish customers, however, the sensation can almost prove too much.

”It didn't go as smoothly as planned,” writes Yvonne customer Maeghan Leigh, describing on her blog how she clutched pillows to stifle her “hysterical laughing”.

”Seriously, those little guys on your toes is the most outrageous ridiculous feeling in the world, meaning lots of “eeeeeeeeeeeeeee” squeals,” she writes. “In the end though, I would definitely go back for more because my tootsies are smoother than a baby's bottom.”

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Fish nibble away at scaly skin

By Matthew Barakat - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: 08/08/08 6:48 AM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the 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.

He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they’re sanitary.

Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but are typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.

But Ho doubted they would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath. And he didn’t know if customers would like the idea.

“I know people were a little intimidated at first,” Ho said. “But I just said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ ”

Customers were quickly hooked.

Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Md., heard about it on a local radio show. She said it was “the best pedicure I ever had” and has spread the word to friends and co-workers.

“I’d been an athlete all my life, so I’ve always had calluses on my feet. This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely,” she said.

First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: “It kind of feels like your foot’s asleep,” she said.

The fish don’t do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.

Ho believes his is the only salon in the country to offer the treatment, which costs $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes. The spa has more than 1,000 fish, with about 100 in each individual pedicure tank at any given time.

Dennis Arnold, a podiatrist who four years ago established the International Pedicure Association, said he had never heard of the treatment and doubts it will become widespread.

“I think most people would be afraid of it,” he said.

Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Md., admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.

“It’s a little ticklish, actually,” she said.

Ho said the hot water in which the fish thrive doesn’t support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available — including dead, flaking skin. They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can’t bite it off.

In addition to offering pedicures, Ho hopes to establish a network of Doctor Fish Massage franchises and is evaluating a full-body fish treatment that, among other things, could treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.

Ho spent a year and about $40,000 getting the pedicures up and running, with a few hiccups along the way.

State regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department — which does regulate pools — required the salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.

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.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Flesh-Eating Fish Perform 'Pedicures'

by Daniele Anastasion

Day to Day, August 4, 2008 · What would it take to get you to stick your feet in a tank of fish that feed on human flesh? It's an experience some are willing to pay for. In Alexandria, Va., Yvonne Salon is treating customers to a beauty fad that's new to the U.S.: the fish pedicure.

More than 6,000 customers have tried the $45 treatment since the salon began offering it five months ago, according to owner John Ho. The salon says it's the first in the United States to offer the service.

"We have tripled our volume," he says. "At the beginning … I was begging people to go in. But you know, it just went haywire."

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the Vietnamese-owned salon is packed. In the back, thousands of silvery carp flit around in a holding pool. At some point, they'll all be transferred into smaller tanks to suck dead skin off customers' feet.

Garra rufa perform a more effective foot scrub than human pedicurists, some patrons insist.

'It Kisses Your Skin'

One such customer, Barbara Campbell, steps into a tank of around 200 fish.

"Which ones are the hungriest? That's what I want to know," she boldly asks a technician.

Known as Garra rufa, the silvery inch-long fish originate from hot springs in Turkey. It's there that they developed an appetite for the only food around — human flesh.

Calm down; Garra rufa, which look like a cross between goldfish and minnows, can't technically bite because they don't have any teeth.

"It kisses your skin," explains Leah Le, who works at the Yvonne salon. "But more it just sucks off your dry skin."

Kelly Jackson, 27, is a fish-pedi convert. She says the experience is better than having a human scrub her feet.

"It's all organic," she says, "[I] absolutely loved it.... Your feet never felt so clean."

The 'Doctor Fish' Is In

In China and Japan, Garra rufa are known as "doctor fish" and are often used to treat skin problems like psoriasis.

After reading about it on the Internet, salon owner Yvonne Le traveled to China to get a full body treatment.

"I lay down in the pool for 40 minutes," she recalls. "I come out and my skin [was] so beautiful and smooth."

Forty thousand dollars and 10,000 fish later, Yvonne and her husband, John, brought doctor fish to the United States.

The expensive fish are a gamble for these entrepreneurs, because they're difficult to maintain. Ho says he wakes up in the middle of the night just to check on them.

Comic Alan Yang pokes fun at fish pedicures. "I don't think these are the right kind of fish for pedicures."

Keeping Fish Warm, Customers Happy

"There's a lot of risk in taking care of the fish," Ho says. "You've got to give them warm water. If the water [drops] below 70 degrees, they'll die."

The fish stay well fed on a steady supply of human skin. Over the past few months, technician Le has watched them double in size.

"When we first had them, they were tiny. You could feel, like, this little nibbling, and now you can feel the sucking and it's more powerful."

That might sound unpleasant to the uninitiated, but the salon is filled with giggling customers.

"When you go in, you just gotta laugh," Ho says. "I have people who laugh 'til their tears come out. I don't think money can pay for that, you know what I mean."

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