- TikTok’s “bone smashing” trend refers to people hitting themselves in the face with objects to enhance their appearance.
- The misinformed theory behind bone shattering is that bones will heal into a more desirable arrangement after being broken or fractured.
- Experts say this trend is extremely dangerous and can lead to permanent damage.
If you’ve heard of “bone breaking” or seen videos about it on TikTok, you probably already have goosebumps.
The term is as alarming as it sounds and refers to people hitting themselves with objects in the face in hopes of improving their appearance.
“In a desperate and depraved effort to gain physical beauty and acceptance from others, people deliberately break the bones in their own face, believing that the bones will heal back in a way that makes them physically more attractive,” Kyle Zagrodsky, Founder & CEO of OsteoStrong, told Healthline.
However, the chance of that happening approaches 0 percent, said Dr. Ethan Sugarman, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Health Greenwich Village.
“The idea that randomly breaking your bone will magically result in a more desirable cosmetic appearance is, I think, magical thinking at best. More likely than not…it will result in pain without significant improvement in cosmetic appearance,” he told Healthline.
The trend is part of a larger social media trend called “lookmaxing,” which refers to a person making an effort to improve their appearance. Looksmaxing ranges from applying makeup, practicing skin routines, and eating healthy to extreme measures such as cosmetic surgery, poor diet, excessive exercise, and more.
Many proponents of bone crushing cite Wolff’s Law, coined by 19th-century German surgeon Julius Wolff, which states that bones will adapt to the demands or stress placed on them.
For example, a person who performs physical labor for a job may find that the part of the body they use most often has adapted to withstand the stress they endure.
“That’s why we see certain types of athletes, like gymnasts, develop stronger bones than say a professional swimmer who puts a bit of stress on their bones, or someone who has a sedentary lifestyle, would be at greater risk of developing of osteoporosis,” said Zagrodski.
Wolff’s law describes
Bone remodeling is applied to bone care related to physical therapy, osteoporosis, and bone fractures, but is not always applicable.
Sugarman said it’s definitely not about breaking bones.
“Bones normally grow from their growth plates, which are at the ends of bones. The middle part of the bone has no potential for growth, only healing,” he said.
Because of this, Sugarman said the likely outcome of breaking the bone and healing is about the same as before you broke it. Also, the chance of breaking bones to realign your face or body in a productive way is extremely unlikely.
“It’s like dropping a glass on the floor and it magically turns into a teacup. There will be some swelling initially, but after a short period of time it will go back to normal,” he said.
In rare cases, an orthopedic surgeon will need to break a patient’s bone during surgery to help fix a problem.
“For example, a bone that was previously broken but healed the wrong way may need to be reset, or the bone will need to be cut to prepare for the implantation of a hip or knee replacement, and yes, sometimes plastic surgeons, you’re going to break a bone in an attempt to improve someone’s aesthetic appearance,” Zagrodski said.
However, he noted that the need to break a bone for surgery is a rare and serious operation that requires a lot of planning by a doctor and, if done incorrectly, can cause long-term pain and discomfort.
In addition to the pain of intentionally breaking bones and severe bruising, other long-term complications and risks can occur that may require more significant reconstructive surgeries to restore function, Sugarman said.
“The post-operative facial scar will further conflict with the intended goal of improving aesthetics. And without proper planning by a trained professional, the bones can regrow in a way that causes an unattractive disfigurement,” Zagrodski said.
Irreversible nerve damage and internal or external bleeding can also occur.
For young people, the damage goes even further because before they reach adulthood, bones grow and change based on genetics. Damage to the bone can disrupt or prevent the bone’s normal, healthy growth trajectory, Zagrodzky said.
In addition, the growth plates remodel faster than other parts of the bone to accommodate the rapid growth period experienced at puberty.
“Damage to a growth plate can slow or stop bone growth in the affected area,” Zagrodzky said.
While young people generally heal from injuries faster than older people, he noted that breaking a bone incorrectly as a teenager can cause it to heal faster in a less desirable way.
“Bone health developed in the teenage years can create the foundation for physical strength and athleticism throughout a person’s life. Developing healthy bones and bones in the teenage years is extremely important,” he said.
Bone mineral density declines in humans, Zagrodsky said.
“However, young people should be more concerned with developing strong, healthy bones rather than intentionally breaking them,” Zagrodski said. “For a healthy society, we need healthy people.”
Building strong bones usually requires proper nutrition and high-impact exercise, such as jumping or running.
“Our skeleton only adds calcium and strength until about age 30. After that, we just lose power,” Sugarman said. “Good health is extremely important for the young population and the best we can do is to have a healthy balanced diet with calcium and vitamin D.”
TikTok’s “bone smashing” trend refers to people hitting themselves in the face with objects to enhance their appearance.
The misinformed theory behind bone shattering is that bones will heal into a more desirable arrangement after being broken or fractured.
Experts say this trend is extremely dangerous and can lead to permanent damage.