Its a routine practice for one to go to a restaurant and pay to get fish cooked to one’s desire as a meal.
Its a routine practice for one to go to a restaurant and pay to get fish cooked to one’s desire as a meal. But would you pay to have fish eat you?
Images of piranas or sharks devouring a human body make for a good, entertaining horror movie. Scale the fish down to the size of, say 3 centimeters, change the fish type to Garra Rufa, change the location from the Amazon river or the rough seas of South Africa to a controlled fish tank in a spa and you get a million dollar industry. The food chain is getting reversed in the world of beauty treatments!
Beauty is only skin deep but people will go to any length to attain the look, be it with creams and gels or with injections and surgeries. Everyone wants to look beautiful and are willing to try anything to look young and attractive, even if it requires one to dip their feet in a water tank filled with hungry fishes ready to take a chomp off the skin cells! World Travel Magazine welcomes you to the world of fish therapy.
The fish therapy is not an unfamiliar idea since the Kangal Spa in Turkey has been functioning since the early 1900’s. The Middle East and parts of Turkey have hot springs where Garra Rufa fish have been alleviating and sanitizing the skin of the bathers for many years. An accidental discovery, people in the baths noticed that these tiny fish were biting off dead skin cells while leaving the healthy skin as it was.
These tiny, unpaid, primitive therapists would use their saliva to soften the skin and begin nibbling the callus covered skin. Sometimes referred to as ‘Doctor Fish’, the fishes exudes an enzyme called diathanol that fastens the regeneration of skin. These fishes are renowned for their ability to find and feed on dead or damaged areas of the skin surface while the skin gets exfoliated. The fish nibble away the dead membrane cuticles and coat the skin surface with saliva encouraging the speedy recovery of the lesions. Fish therapy is effortless on the part of the paying patron and does not cause irritation or scarring of the skin. The down side is that one suffers from bouts of giggles as the fish bites feel ticklish on the skin.
The Turkish region began exporting this new concept, and the fish, to far flung corners of the world, heralding a new trend in beauty. From the humid island of Singapore to the windy isle of England, the Garra Rufa have found home in trendy spas and food on our feet. These tiny starlets create quite a buzz among patrons – most lining up to experience the closest and most natural pedicure they would ever receive. We at the World Travel Magazine spoke to two unique and beautiful fish spas, the Anesis spa in London and Kenko Fish Spa in Singapore.
Anesis, fish spa, London came into being in December 2010 and is taking the therapy to the new heights. Anesis Spa in UK has been branded as a luxury spa, which transforms a common man into celebrities. Set as a lifestyle brand that combines a social meeting point and beauty care with innovations. The spa therapy services ranges from GBP 15 to GBP 120, Damien Zannetou, owner of this concept is confident that he is recession proof given that people continue to look after their beauty even through going through such a phase.
Established in 1991, Kenko Reflexology & Fish Spa has to date, more than 25 outlets locally and regionally. Known for its unique style of reflexology techniques developed by its founder Dr Jimi Tan, Kenko’s reflexology techniques are able to cure various common ailments. Their extensive clientele list includes names synonymous with distinguished luminaries, including former Japanese Prime Minister Ryuto Hashimoto.
The utilization of Garra Rufa as a means of a pedicure is perhaps more hygienic than the conventional and traditional tools used for this purpose. Sue Lee, Manager at Kenko’s says that the water in the tanks is filtered at a fast interval and the fish are rested ever so often, ensuring a much higher level of hygiene.
When quizzed about one’s hesitation to dip one’s feet in a tank full of hungry school of fish, Damien reassured us that, “Clients overcome fish phobias through a careful consultation process where each therapist spends time with the client educating them on the sensation, the facts and of course the benefits behind the treatment before clients enter the tanks. We only offer fish pedicures NOT manicures so no hands are involved. They will reassure them whilst wiping them feet down of any harmful bacteria of the sensation being similar to a bubble bath where the water is heated to 27 degrees and the sensation of the fish are like light bubbles to the feet. The fish will then through a suction process remove hard skin releasing diathanol in their saliva which is a rejuvenating enzyme. This will therefore encourage the removal of hard skin like a pedicure which the fish will consume as a source of protein. The feet will be left feeling baby soft and silky smooth although two to three treatments are required with a minimum spend of 30 minutes in the tank for fantastic results. This is fantastic for skin sufferers such as Psoriasis etc. where clients have been known to be cured. Also like a process of reflexology they have been known by pressure points on the feet to cure aches and pains.”
Fish therapy seems to have an unmatched capability to remove dead skin involving the simple procedure of nibbling by a school of Garra Rufa. In the language of spa goers, the fish kisses the skin while one gets riddance from dead skin and healthy skin is left intact. There are additional benefits of fish therapy as it releases stress and amplifies blood circulation and fosters relaxation.
Kenko’s in Singapore have two different sizes of Garra Rufa. Sue explains, “The therapeutic effects of a small and medium fish are the same – exfoliation, lightning of minor scars, easing of psoriasis and minor eczema. The difference lies in the sensory experience. You will feel a stronger pinch (compared to a tickle) during the fish spa. Like how some customers prefer a deeper massage, we have found that some customers enjoy a rougher exfoliating experience by the bigger fishes. Kenko’s fish spa experience starts from $28 for a 30 minute to $108 for a full body fish spa for a couple. Kenko is the first and only place that offers full body fish spa where two people are immersed up to the neck and the growing demand is testament to fish spa therapy gaining acceptance as a regular spa option in Asia.”
It makes sense for one to get a pedicure, or in this case, a gentle nibble off the dead skin by fishes. Their teeth are finer than most salon equipment, natural saliva (read enzymes) are used on the feet, it gets the job done and if you are in Anesis, you get a glass of champaign to sip while waiting for the tiny therapists to finish the job they are being fed for.