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Unusual Pedicure Treatment Features Fish

Posted: July 22, 2008

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 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.

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.