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Hot Stuff: Are Fire Facials the Next Beauty Trend?

The latest spa treatment from China has people burning, literally, for a more youthful appearance and a healthier physique.

Known as huǒ liáo or "fire treatment," the bizarre beauty procedure involves placing a cloth that's been soaked in alcohol and some kind of special elixir over the face, back, legs, belly or another problem area, according to RocketNews24.

Once everything is in place, the cloth is set aflame for up to a minute or so; an attendant then smothers the flames using a towel. The procedure is a widely practiced health and beauty treatment in parts of Asia, according to MSN.com.

Not only is huǒ liáo used to beautify the skin and get rid of wrinkles, it's also promoted for everything from joint pain and insomnia to indigestion and obesity, according to Yahoo Shine.

But does the procedure work? "While alcohol will help carry whatever is in the elixir into the body, it's not really necessary to light it on fire," Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of "Real Cause, Real Cure," (Rodale Books, 2012) told Yahoo.

"However, one explanation [for using fire] is that extreme heat triggers an adrenaline response, which can shift your body's chemistry, improving some symptoms like indigestion and slow metabolism," Teitelbaum said.

Naturally, any treatment that involves open flames involves some risks, like skin burns or having your hair catch on fire. "You don't want to be anyone's first client, or you might be their last," Teitelbaum said. "If you're asking whether I would try this myself, the answer is no."

Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at About.com and a producer with ABCNews.com. His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and TheWeek.com. Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.