Here's What Happens When Someone Gives You A Hickey

The most famous hickeys in recent history belong to Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, and (hello, there) Scottish dreamboat Gerard Butler (via Life and Style). And even though Kendall Jenner might be the only normal one in her family, don't even get us started on that time she and model Anwar Hadid were both spotted with hickeys during Paris Fashion Week 2018, per Cosmopolitan.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that a passionate kiss is something that the adult world feels the need to collectively gasp about?  "What happens is actually pretty simple," Dr. Sydney Spiesel explained to NPR. "The administerer of the hickey applies lips to the neck and creates a vacuum. And if that vacuum is strong enough, the little capillaries in the skin break and they cause what doctors call, 'ecchymosis.'" In other words? When we all giggled at High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens once going to yoga with a love bite on her neck, we were blushing over a bruise (via HuffPost).

Can someone giving you a hickey ever cause serious harm?

Some bruises, of course, are worse than others. In 2016, 17-year old Mexico City resident Macias Gonzalez actually died from a stroke after his girlfriend gave him a hickey (via Inverse). While strokes induced by hickeys are extremely rare, they're not a thing of fiction either.   

How can you avoid endangering your partner's health? According to Vice, if your lips put enough pressure over your partner's neck's carotid arteries (the vessels that deliver blood to the brain), you could potentially rip the arteries' walls, causing a blood clot to form. If the clots grow large enough, they can block blood flow to the brain, inducing a stroke. All of that's to say, location is key. 

Finally, as Vice's doctor on-call recommends, "The decision of whether to continue giving or receiving hickeys is an individual one, and should take into account both the risks and benefits associated with sucking on necks."