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Dying to Be Beautiful? The Health Risks of Cosmetic Procedures

And while in the right hands experts say most beauty treatments are safe, in the wrong hands the trade-off can be steep.

"It's an unknown risk because you're dependant upon the technical ability and integrity of the person performing the treatment - and the types of organisms you may be exposed to can run the gamut from bacteria to viruses, to other types of organisms, like fungi, even micro bacteria related to the tuberculosis organism," cautions Phillip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

And in some cases, says Tierno, exposures can be deadly. This was the case recently in Fort Worth, Texas, where a wrongful death suit claimed a woman died after contracting antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus following a pedicure at a local nail salon.

This incident, says Tierno, parallels another, even more widespread calamity that occurred when 110 people who received pedicures at a Santa Cruz, Calif. nail salon contracted a potentially dangerous infection causing treatment-resistant skin abscesses and boils.