Dimples are small dents that can be found on the skin, commonly occurring on the cheeks, chin, and lower back. Cheek dimples are present on both the cheeks or only on one cheek and become prominent while smiling or talking. Chin dimples are singular and present on the chin. Lower back dimples are present on either side of the spine, over the lower back. Around 20-30% of the world’s population has dimples, which makes them quite rare.
What causes dimples?
Dimples are hereditary. If either of your parents has a dimple, it is more likely that you will have one as well. Sometimes, you may not have a dimple at birth, but it becomes visible later in life.
A lot of babies have dimples. This is because of fat accumulation in the baby’s fat. As the babies grow, these dimples go away. Some older kids have dimples that disappear as the muscles of the face develop.
How do cheek dimples form?
Dimples are caused by a developmental variation in the facial muscle called the zygomaticus major. This muscle is involved in the facial expressions and helps the corners of the mouth lift while smiling. Normally, the zygomaticus major muscle begins at the cheekbone, also called the zygomatic bone, and it ends at the corner of the mouth. In people with dimples, the zygomaticus major typically divides into two separate bundles of muscle (also called a bifid zygomaticus major), namely, one is attached to the corner of the mouth and the other is attached below the corner of the mouth and to the skin above the corner of the mouth. This split in the muscle can be referred to as a double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle. Movement of the skin over the bifid zygomaticus major while smiling causes a dimple to form. People can have variations in how their dimples appear and may also become more prominent with age. There are no negative health effects to having dimples.
In a person with a dimpled chin, it is the improper fusion of the halves of the lower jawbones. The defect is perceived as a dimple.
What if you are not born with dimples?
Dimples are often considered an attractive trait, making many people desire them. Dimpleplasty is a type of plastic surgery performed to create cheek dimples. It’s a relatively short procedure performed under local anesthesia or intravenous sedation and typically requires a day’s care. During dimpleplasty, a small cut is made at the inner side where the dimple would appear. It is mostly the point where a line drawn from the tip of the mouth to the earlobe meets the line drawn straight down from the outer eye corner. A small cut is made inside the cheek, and a suture is put from the muscle to the skin. This suture gets dissolved on its own, but creates scar tissue on the inner side, causing dimples.
The procedure takes about 30 minutes or less.
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Chen A, Gary D, Zimmerman Z. The Dimpleplasty: A New Streamlined Approach to Surgical Creation of Dynamic Facial Dimples, Our Experience, and Results. The American J Cosmetic Surg. November 2018. 36(3):074880681881414. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329128552_The_Dimpleplasty_A_New_Streamlined_Approach_to_Surgical_Creation_of_Dynamic_Facial_Dimples_Our_Experience_and_Results