IF THERE IS ONE THING medical experts want you to know about the latest Trending on TikTok of “bone breaking” is that you definitely shouldn’t try it.
“It’s very dangerous,” says the cosmetic surgeon Ariel Ostad, Ph.D “This is not a good idea.”
Boning refers to people hitting their face with hammers and other objects in hopes of changing their facial structure and improving their appearance. Tagged videos on TikTok #breakingbones have been viewed more than 353 million times. But it’s not clear if people are in fact smashing their faces.
“As a plastic surgeon, it appalls me that people try to break the bones in their face to improve their appearance,” says Lyle Leipziger, Ph.Dchief of plastic surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
The idea behind bone smashing, according to TikTokkers, is that by potentially breaking or breaking the bones in your face, you can trigger bone growth and provide yourself with more chiseled look.
Breaking your own bones is obviously not a good idea—not only will it cause severe pain, but it can also lead to disfigurement and other serious health problems, says Dr. Ostad.
Bone breaking is said to be associated with incel culture and part of the “looksmaxing” trend. Looksmaxing refers to someone (usually young men) seeking to improve their appearance in any way possible. It can include measures such as cosmetic surgery, excessive exercise, and do-it-yourself efforts such as breaking bones.
Bone fractures are also associated with meowinganother social media trend where you train yourself to change the position of your tongue to change your facial features.
Here’s why bone crushing is a dangerous trend best avoided and how it can harm your appearance and health.
Why is breaking bones so dangerous?
Proponents of bone crushing often cite the 19th century Wolff’s law, which says that bones will adapt to the stress placed on them. But Dr. Leipziger says they don’t get the idea.
“Bone in general can undergo change and remodeling in response to certain physical stressors,” he says. “Examples of good mechanical stress that can improve bone health are walking, general exercise and weight lifting.”
Judicious bone stress, like strength training, can cause tension in your muscles and lead to bone strength, which is beneficial, adds Dr. Ostad.
Wolff’s Law focuses on bone remodeling, which is the idea that your bones change throughout your life as you adapt to bone stress and develop new bone material. It is sometimes used to treat bone care for osteoporosis or bone fractures and is used in physical therapy.
However, a self-inflicted bone fracture is not covered by Wolff’s Law. Bone crushing is unlikely to strengthen your bones or change your appearance in a positive way, doctors say. Instead, it will probably just cause problems.
The dangers of breaking bones
Plastic surgeons sometimes break bones during cosmetic procedures, but that breaking is done under the supervision of a qualified surgeon, Dr. Leipziger says.
The tendency to self-injure bones comes with many risks. The American Academy of Dermatology recently included “doing beauty treatments at home” on its list of the five most dangerous skin care trends to avoid.
Broken bones can cause the bones to shift and not heal properly, which can cause permanent disfigurement, Dr. Leipziger says. It can also lead to nerve damage and possible vision loss.
It can cause muscle tearing and cause bone to overgrow, causing an asymmetrical or misshapen appearance, Dr. Ostad adds.
You will most likely need medical attention after breaking a bone as well.
“The recovery process would be too long and painful,” says Dr. Ostad. “This would require surgery and potentially disfigurement and a year’s closure of the jaw.”
Then there’s the impact on mental health, he says Aaron Tendler, Ph.D, chief medical officer at BrainsWay, a mental health medical device company. Social media is known to cause people to fixate on external validation and measure their appearance against others.
“Consumers are constantly bombarded with images and messages of people who seem to have the perfect life, or in this case, appearance, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt,” he explains.
And it can increase the likelihood of mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, Dr. Tendler says.
Cosmetic procedures should only be performed by professionals.
If you are interested in a cosmetic procedure, talk to a plastic surgeon, cosmetic dermatologist or other specialist. They will ensure that each procedure is performed safely without the long-term risks that come with breaking bones and provide the results you are looking for.
There are also some noninvasive, FDA-approved treatment options, such as Emface, that can offer facelift, contouring, and sculpting, Dr. Ostad says.
Erica Sweeney is a writer who mostly covers health, wellness and career. She has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many others.