For some of us, looking good amounts to copious doses of hair gel, a quick acne wash and showering at least twice a week. But then again, there are cultures where the hand is still an acceptable substitute for toilet paper. That being said, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are cultures on the opposite end of the spectrum – peoples and places that will go to mind-boggling lengths to eliminate one more wrinkle, get skin just a little bit smoother and hopefully change our innermost souls in the process. Or at least that’s the hope – because why else would someone pay $200 to smear bird poop on their face?
Below is a list of some of the most certifiably crazy medical spa treatments available.
1. The Geisha Facial
The name might sound innocent enough and it might even evoke the sensual image of a traditional Chinese geisha – until you discover that the geisha facial refers instead to a unique medical spa treatment that involves dabbing powder made from dehydrated bird droppings onto your face.
Used for centuries by Asian actors and actual geishas, the treatment has recently made its trip overseas and into some of the most high-profile spas in America – ranging from the famous Shizuka Spa in New York City to the more seasonable Diamond Hawaii Resort & Spa in Maui. Paying anywhere from $150 to $250 dollars for a single treatment, spa-goers from all over have been flocking to experience the skin-softening, enriching and smoothing power of the Geisha facial, with the treatment even making an awkward appearance on ABC’s morning talk show The View.
So next time you’re sitting under an awning and happen to find yourself the target of some renegade bird, simply remind yourself that those droppings that just landed on your new fedora might actually be worth more than the hat itself – that’s the miracle of capitalism.
2. Snake Massage
NBC’s hit reality show Fear Factor may not have been the first idea to capitalize off of sticking people into a vat full of snakes – apparently some spas have been making money off of this concept for decades. The only difference is that with snake therapies, it’s the people paying the spa instead of the other way around. Hailing all the way from Israel, one of the world’s most famous snake spas is not so discreetly named Ada Barak’s Carnivorous Plant Farm, where guests eagerly line up to be massaged by these typically dangerous and disgusting reptiles – which the owner describes as being “therapeutic.”
The massage typically costs around $80 and is said to “cure aching muscles and joints” and provide a “relaxing massage.” But as far as I can tell, the only thing keeping the snakes from being terrifying limb-less monstrosities is the price of the treatment, in which case my patented fart-sauna therapy costs $100 bucks, baby.
3. Butt Facials
Normally one wouldn’t associate a butt with a facial – that is until the wonderful world of beauty spas came along and combined the two. Yes, thanks to ever-more creative ways to market beauty, there are now an increasingly popular set of beauty spa treatments that apply the same techniques used on one’s face to improve the shape, skin and general posterity of one’s royal cheeks. And while some of these therapies focus more on cleaning and detoxifying, other forms of the treatment aim to reduce cellulite and reshape the buttocks for a more perfect pair of buns, such as is offered by the Smooth Synergy spa in New York City which designates special therapists for work on the derriere portion of the body. And though the treatment can be expensive – running from $60 to $300 for a 90 minute session – advocates of the treatment swear to its legitimacy.
“People used to always harass me because of my large rear-end,” Stacy Santiaggo from San Francisco said. “But after receiving my first butt-facial, I was signed to a modeling gig for Vogue magazine.”
While Stacy’s story might sound impressive, it is also made up. In fact, I couldn’t find any evidence anywhere that 90 minutes with a good set of hands can undo the years of snacking and sitting around that ultimately shape our butts.
4. Leech Therapy
While leeches have been used for centuries to combat a variety of ailments from fever to flatulence, it’s only recently that the slimy, wriggling blood-suckers have been making appearances in medical spas, and at up to several hundreds of dollars per session. Just to give you an idea of what this treatment entails, the beauty website Plasmetic.com lists the following as Procedure Highlights:
- Highly trained medical leeches (how the hell do you train leeches?)
- Shaving of the entire body before applying the leeches (I thought this was more commonly done for cancer patients)
- Patient being immersed in turpentine (Turpentine? Really?)
- Patient experiences a stinging sensation (you know, this is starting to not sound so fun)
- It causes bleeding in the patient (okay, this is definitely not fun)
- Oh! But it also makes the person look younger!
So if you’re like me, you’ll look over that list and take solace in the fact that only crazy people would subject themselves to such a disturbing “treatment.” Well, think again because apparently this nightmarish version of bloodletting has made its way to Hollywood and is being touted by the likes of Demi Moore.
“I feel like I’ve always been someone looking for the cutting edge of things that optimize your health and healing” said Demi Moore. “I was in Austria doing a cleanse and part of the treatment was leech therapy.”
Okay, I wish I were making this up – but unfortunately for the world, I’m not.
5. Swimming with the Fishes
It shouldn’t surprise you that a Japanese-originated medical spa treatment showed up on this list. Instead, you should be surprised that this entire list isn’t comprised of weird Japanese practices. But even so, the practice of using hundreds of tiny fish as a form of skin treatment seems to stand out above the rest of the crazy things Japanese do. This “unique” medical spa treatment has patrons “relaxing” in a tub full of fish to “clean and rejuvenate” the skin. Okay, so maybe the last line shouldn’t be in quotations, but it’s hard to believe that hundreds of nibbling goldfish (okay – they’re not technically goldfish) could be any more productive than rubbing a luffa sponge over your legs for a few minutes.
But according to experts on the topic, the fish eat away at dead skin and leave you feeling fresh and dandy without the uncomfortable disfigurement that comes from fish like wild piranha.
So in conclusion, if you’re ever feeling down about our current economic crises, perhaps you can take comfort in knowing that there’s still enough money out there somewhere for some to justify paying hundreds of dollars for ridiculous treatments involving bird poop, leeches and snake baths.