What Are Dimples Caused By?

Reviewed on 3/11/2021

Dimples are small dents most seen on the cheeks on either side of the mouth, but they can also appear on other parts of the body. Dimples are often hereditary.
Dimples are small dents most seen on the cheeks on either side of the mouth, but they can also appear on other parts of the body. Dimples are often hereditary.

Dimples are small dents most seen on the cheeks on either side of the mouth, but they can also appear on other parts of the body. Dimples are often considered a sign of beauty and youth. They are desired by both men and women. The dimples may be seen on both cheeks or only one cheek. Some people may have dimples on other parts of the body as well.

What are dimples caused by?

Dimples are often hereditary. The genes that control dimple formation are often passed on from parent to child. Here are some of the most common sites for dimples and their possible causes.

  • Fovea buccalis (cheek dimples): These dimples are due to differences in structure of the  zygomaticus major facial muscle. This muscle normally has a single belly that runs down from your cheekbone to the corner of your mouth. When you smile, this muscle contracts to move the angle of the mouth. In individuals with dimples, the belly of the zygomaticus major muscle is divided into two separate bundles at birth. One bundle connects below the corner of the mouth. The other bundle connects at the corner of the mouth. The movement of the skin over this muscle causes a dent (or a dimple) over your face. The reason for this variation is genetic. Often, the dimple will not be apparent during childhood, but as the child grows and the muscle becomes bigger, it will become more prominent.
  • Fovea mentalis (chin dimple): The chin dimple is formed when the two halves of the lower jawbone fuse improperly in the midline. The resulting defect is perceived as a cleft chin or a dimpled chin. This defect is common in people of European descent.
  • Fossa lumbales laterales (back dimples): These are also known as the dimples of Venus. These are often two depressions that lie on each side of the lower spine. They are created by a short ligament (fibrous chord) that attaches the crest of your hip bone to the tissue under your skin. The site with the Venus dimples is an erogenous zone, which can aid in a better orgasm.
  • Elbow dimple: Sometimes, there is a dimple on the sides of the elbow. It may point to swelling of the elbow joint due to overuse or injury.
  • Gluteal dimples (butt cheek dimples): Butt dimples are caused by cellulite or fat deposits right beneath the skin's surface. The presence of cellulite on your buttocks can run in the family or be caused by hormones or poor posture.

Can dimples go away?

Sometimes, the excess fat at a site may cause dimples. These dimples are not permanent. They can be eliminated through proper diet and exercise. We often see newborns who have cheek dimples when they suckle milk. These dimples are also caused by the accumulation of fat in the baby’s cheeks. As babies grow, they lose their facial fat, and their dimples disappear. 

Ideally, a dimple that is genetically inherited will not completely disappear. It may, however, become less noticeable with age or drastic weight loss.

Can you get a dimple via cosmetic surgery?

It is possible to get a dimple via cosmetic surgery. The procedure is called dimpleplasty. It may cost you around $1,500 or more depending on the doctor and hospital charges. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes.

The surgeon will mark an area on your face where the dimple is desired. This area is often found by asking the individual to suck in air and mark the point of greatest depression over the cheeks. Under local anesthesia, the surgeon makes a small cut over the inner side of the cheek corresponding to the mark on the outer surface. They then place self-dissolving stitches to fix the cheek muscle to the overlying skin. Over time, sutures dissolve and get absorbed. When the wound inside the cheek heals, the cheek muscle forms a scar-like attachment to the overlying skin. This creates a dimple when you smile. There is no cut or stitch on the face and you can go home the same day. The formation of dimples depends on your healing process and may take a few weeks to form completely.

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

Innovative Journal


Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man


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