Exfoliation via Eel Bath: Would You Take the Plunge?

(Photo Credit: Getty)

From vampire blood facials to body massages from a snake, the beauty industry is enjoying a particularly extreme moment.

It seems that the stranger the spa treatment, the more beauty junkies are willing to try it these days. Case in point: A popular exfoliation treatment in Chinese spas involves being submerged in a tank full of tiny eels that eat dead skin cells off one's body.

That's right. Tiny eels the size of pencils swill swim around your bikini-clad body and nibble your flesh, so you can feel baby soft.

The eel exfoliation treatment is a sister act to a fish pedicure in which carp or chin chin suck dead skin cells off the toes in lieu of a pumice stone. The latter has gained popularity stateside, with nail salons and spas from Virginia to California employing the tanks where regulations allow. Spas in the United States have yet to advertise eel body exfoliation.

That might be a good thing, as neither of these treatments is immune to health risks.

U.S. and British health officials have previously stated that the carp used in the pedicures might carry bacteria that can lead to any number of skin and soft tissue infections.

And in the case of eel exfoliation, the pain could run even deeper. A cautionary tale emerged in 2008 when Zhang Nan, 56, of the Hubei province indulged in an eel bath and one of the exfoliators swam up his penis and inside his kidney, the Guardian reported. A three-hour surgery was required to remove the little sucker.

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