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Doctor Fish Pedicures: Top 5 Questions & Answers

Updated on October 11, 2015

Doctor Fish Pedicures: Top 5 Questions & Answers

The Doctor Fish Pedicure could be one of the most fascinating, yet disgusting new beauty treatments to surface in the U.S. in 2008. A special breed of fish called “Garra Rufa” actually feed off your dead skin cells, while you sit back and dangle your feet in a pool of these swimming marvels.

I’ve researched Doctor Fish Pedicures and have recapped below, the top 5 questions and answers that YOU want to know about this unusual treatment.

1) How does a Doctor Fish Pedicure compare to a traditional pedicure? When you receive a traditional pedicure treatment a loofa, sponge or file is used to slough off the dead skin and calluses from your feet. This is usually followed by warm oil massage and moisturizing lotion.

When you receive a Doctor Fish Pedicure, hundreds of toothless fish use their powerful sucking lips, to literally suck away your dead skin, unveiling your healthy, soft skin that lies beneath. In addition to the nickname “Doctor Fish”, the Garra Rufas are also called “nibble fish” and “little dermatologists”.

2) What does a Doctor Fish Pedicure feel like? When you first dip your feet in the pool of Doctor Fish, many describe the sensation as tingly or like being tickled. After a few minutes, you get used to the fish touching you and it begins to feel more like a gentle massage.

3) How much does a Doctor Fish Pedicure cost? The cost of a Fish Pedicure varies from salon to salon and state to state, but ranges from $30 to $45 for a 15-20 minute session. Most salons offer traditional pedicure options, example toenail shaping and polish, in addition to the fish nibbling section.

Doctor Fish Pedicure
Doctor Fish Pedicure

4) In addition to softer skin, what other benefits can I receive from a Doctor Fish Pedicure? Some fish pedicure enthusiasts believe that the fish can stimulate acupuncture points in your feet which help to regulate your nervous system, relax your body and release fatigue. Others state that the fish help to remove obstructions from your pores and promote better blood circulation.

The concept of using these fish to treat skin disorders originated in Turkey then spread to Asia and across the Globe. In addition to being used to treat dry skin, the Garra Rufa have been used to treat skin disorders including Psoriasis, Eczema and Dermatitis.

Like many skin treatments, the fish provide a temporary cure to treat skin conditions so spa goers need to repeat the treatment every few months to maintain the effect.

5) Where can I get a Doctor Fish Pedicure? There are salons across the United States that offer doctor fish pedicures.

  • As a first step, Google "Doctor Fish Pedicure AND your location" and see what listings are provided.
  • The website Doctor Fish Massage provides links and information to about ten sites across the U.S. Click here for more info.

Not Everyone Likes Doctor Fish Pedicures

Not everyone likes Doctor Fish Pedicures. In October 2008, Fish Pedicures were outlawed in the state of Washington. The Washington Department of Licensing stated that they do not feel the practice is sanitary. "You can clean the tank, you can clean the water, but there's no guarantee that the fish aren't carrying something from the previous customer." Read more about this Washington ruling here.

In other states, salons offering Fish Pedicures were asked to move away from using a large pool of fish, feeding on several clients at the same time (see video below) to single pools, only used by one client at a time. Again, to make the process more sanitary.

These Fish Pedicures do sound a little fishy to me. I think I’ll stick with the tried and true, human kind for now!

Watch a Live Doctor Fish Pedicure!


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