Are Dimples a Birth Defect? Understanding the Genetics of Facial Features

Dimples are charming skin indentations linked to genetic traits and muscular variations, often seen when smiling.

Understanding Dimples

A close-up of a smiling face with two small, symmetrical indentations on the cheeks

Dimples, often considered a charming feature, have various types and origins that are rooted in genetics and muscular structure.

This section will explore their defining characteristics, the genetic mechanisms behind their development, and the specifics of the facial muscles involved in dimple formation.

Definition and Types of Dimples

A dimple is a small depression that can occur on different parts of the skin, notably on the cheeks (cheek dimples) or the chin (chin dimple).

Cheek dimples, associated with the zygomaticus major muscle, are most visible when a person smiles.

A chin dimple is the result of a cleft in the chin bone that causes the skin to indent.

Some individuals may have a bifid zygomaticus major muscle, where the muscle splits and causes a dimple to form above each split.

In the realm of genetics, this trait is usually considered a minor and harmless anomaly, not necessarily affecting an individual’s health.

Dimples: Genetics and Inheritance

Research suggests that dimples are a heritable trait, often running in families.

While the exact genes involved are not completely understood, it is believed that there might be a dominant pattern of inheritance.

This means a single copy of a dimple allele from either parent may be sufficient for the offspring to express the trait.

The absence or variation in expression such as having dimples in only one cheek indicates a complex genetic background.

Facial Muscles and Dimple Formation

Dimples on the cheeks may occur due to variations in the structure of the facial musculature, specifically a shortened zygomaticus major muscle or the presence of the bifid version of this muscle.

These variations cause the skin overlying the muscle to draw tightly as it contracts during smiling, creating the characteristic indentation known as the fovea buccalis.

Meanwhile, dimples on the chin are not related to muscle but to the fovea mentalis, a cleft in the mandible or jawbone. Facial dimples determined by genetics could be seen as an interplay between inherited traits and developmental factors.

Dimples in Culture and Medicine

Dimples have been celebrated in various cultures as a mark of beauty and youth, while the medical community views them as a genetic trait, sometimes classifying them as a minor birth defect.

Dimples and Perceived Attractiveness

Dimples are often associated with attractiveness and are frequently seen on the faces of celebrated actors and public figures.

This trait is deemed desirable by many, leading to a positive perception of dimples within society.

Visit MedlinePlus for insights on the genetic aspects of dimples.

Dimples: From Childhood to Adulthood

Endearingly noticeable on the cheeks of babies and children, dimples can persist into adulthood for some, retaining that sense of youth.

They contribute to a person’s unique facial features and are sometimes more visible when a person smiles.

For further reading, The List provides in-depth information.

Medical Perspective on Dimples

From a medical standpoint, dimples are considered a genetic defect or abnormality, involving variations in the structure of facial muscles.

While they generally do not impact health, their existence is a subject of interest in genetic studies.

Dimple Enhancement Procedures

In response to the allure of dimples, dimple enhancement or dimpleplasty has become a sought-after cosmetic procedure.

Performed by plastic surgeons, this surgery creates dimples on the face, catering to the desire to possess this coveted feature often associated with beauty and charm.