Russian doctors endoscopically removed 209 magnetic balls one at a time from the stomach of a two-year-old child. His parents had noticed black stools and colored metal balls in his stools. The figures below show the x-ray appearance of the balls and the way they looked after removal. Fortunately, the boy recovered with no complications.


A TikTok fad has been blamed for an increase in the incidence of inadvertent swallowing of magnetic balls used to simulate tongue piercings. Sixty-five children who swallowed magnetic balls have been admitted to hospitals in England during the last three years. Pediatric surgeon Simon Kenny, National Health Service clinical director for children, called for a ban on the sale of these toys which can cause bowel injury and death.


A TikTok video, seen more than 3.2 million times, shows a young Spanish woman attempting to remove a facial mole with a nail drill. According to the website, “she got the idea of using a drill from Google.” The preoperative photo on the left shows the mole was very light and could be easily covered with makeup. A larger and more noticeable red mark is seen on the photo taken afterward. The final appearance of the scar will not be evident for many months.


TikTok was involved in another serious injury. A Portland, Oregon TV station carried a story about a 13-year-old girl who suffered third-degree burns on her neck, chest, abdomen, and arm after trying to duplicate a stunt she saw on TikTok. It involved creating a shape on a mirror with alcohol and igniting it to create a special effect.


Her mother said “I was in the living room when she screamed my name and opened the bathroom door. Her body was on fire.” The child is expected to be hospitalized for a minimum of two months.


The child in the burn unit of a Portland hospital

Her mom said she blamed TikTok users for uploading potentially dangerous videos without any warning about hazards, but what is TikTok’s role?


TikTok should have some responsibility for its content. However, it is probably more about the drive for clicks and followers on social media. The more outrageous a video, the more clicks it will generate.


You may recall the TikTok “Benadryl Challenge” which suggested that teenagers take increasing amounts of Benadryl to get high. In 2020, a 15-year-old girl died after taking that challenge.


Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chair and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last 9 years, he has been blogging at and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 3,700,000 page views, and he has over 21,000 followers on Twitter.