We republish this article by Adam Taylor, professor and director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Center at Lancaster University (Great Britain), published in The Conversation on October 26, 2023.
The Internet never ceases to amaze when it comes to strange health fads that become a trend. One of the latest trends on social media is called “bone smashing,” and it is as crazy as its name suggests.
Consists in subjecting the face to trauma with a blunt object – a hammer, a rolling pin, a bottle or any other hard object – hitting it several times in the hope of improve physical appearance.
It goes without saying, but just in case: don’t do it. Crushing bones won’t definitely change your facial structure, but may cause other permanent damagesuch as tooth loss and blindness.
The “science” behind this trend
The bone is a living tissue and is constantly rejuvenated in a tightly regulated process known as remodeling. In fact, the entire bone structure is completely replaces over the course of a decade. The remodeling ensures that only let’s load with the necessary amount of bone to support and protect our tissues, and adapts the architecture of those bones to our movement needs.
Certain stimuli can also cause changes. For example, him exercise exerts a “load” (external force) that ensures that the bones maintain their shape and resistance. Without this stimulus, the bone will begin to decompose to avoid carrying everything we are not using.
Many videos that promote bone crushing they misunderstand a theory called Wolff’s law, which recognizes that bones adapt to the stresses placed on them, and that over time, when a load is repeatedly placed on a particular bone, it will change. For example, college athletes who play sports such as basketball, tennis, and track have stronger bones in their dominant arm, compared to the non-dominant one, due to the repeated stresses they are subjected to.
But the key here is to understand that These bones only change as a result of the muscles that surround them.. When muscles pull on adjacent bone, they help to stimulate growth. So, although the bones of the face would conform to Wolff’s law, they would not change as a result of hitting these bones repeatedly.
If this were possible, we would see these changes in professional athletes who receive repeated blows to the face and skull. But, in reality, most of the physical changes observed in these athletes are due to scar tissue either poorly healed fractures.
There is no evidence that repeated blows to the face alter bone structure in humans.. Although research shows that it can produce changes in rats, their bone structure and biomechanics are very different from those of humans. Not to mention that the animals in this study developed traumatic brain injuries as a result of the repeated blows.
professional bone break
Repeated blows to the face can also cause fracturessince we are talking about bones quite weak.
While it is true that many cosmetic surgeries require breaking bones, it is only done when absolutely necessary and in a specific place on the body. The process of breaking or shaving a bone to change its shape is called osteotomyand is sometimes performed during a rhinoplasty (nose job) or a Genioplasty (jaw surgery).
Although an osteotomy can change a person’s appearance and the alignment of certain bones, it can also change the way in which that bone works. And even when these operations are carried out by professionals, the recovery is long and the result may not be exactly what the patient desires. Without forgetting that osteotomies also carry a risk of complications as nerve injuries.
The bone that is placed later to repair a fracture (known as “woven bone”) is also inferior in terms of quality and structure. So, although a typical fracture can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal – for woven bone to connect the broken ends – you have to wait between a few months and years to recover the original structure and quality.
Serious health risks: eye damage, brain injuries, and facial paralysis
Many of those who have tried the bone-breaking fad have done so to alter the bone structure of the bones. cheekbones (known as zygomatic bones) or the jaw (the jaw).
The zygomatic bone of each cheek facilitates facial expressions and protect the eyes. The jaw helps us chew, talk and shapes the lower part of the face. These structures are optimized for these functions, so Hitting any of them with something heavy will probably just damage the bones.. And, since our skull is not designed to withstand repeated strong blows, the crushing of the bones could cause traumatic brain injuries.
Damage to the cheekbones can lead to bruising and swelling, which in turn can damage the eyes as well as the nerves of the face. This can lead to Facial paralysis.
Damage to the jaw carries the same risks. Behind her passes a main blood vessel that carries blood to important parts of the face and head, such as the teeth, parts of the ear, and the lining of the brain. Major damage to the jaw can tear this artery. Because of its position, it can be difficult to see the damage and stop bleeding into surrounding tissues. Although most likely it is more likely to cause tooth damage or loss and nerve damage, could also (lead to death).
Even if “breaking bones” by hitting our face provided the desired facial changes, we would have to continue doing it for the rest of our lives. Because once the blows stop, the bone returns to its more efficient structure.
If you want to change the look of your face, consult a professional.