August 17, 2011

Genetic Traits: Dimples

Cheek dimples, so desirable, so attractive, and yet you aren't one of those 'blessed' individuals to flaunt these. No one can figure what it is about cheek dimples that make a person so attractive, and simply adds to her/his charm manifold. Yet all of us want to be one of those charming people, who can flash a dimpled smile and sway onlookers off their feet. Well, before we understand how to get these desirable cheek dimples, let's take a look at what are dimples and what causes them.

Technically speaking, dimples are visible indentations formed as a result of the underlying flesh of the cheeks. It is hard to believe that dimples are actually the manifestations of a birth defect resulting from a shortened facial muscle. A dimple is the outcome of a fault in the subcutaneous connective tissue that develops during embryonic development. Also, a variation in the structure of the facial muscle zygomaticus major is known to cause dimples. When a person smiles, the shorter muscles on his/her face cause the facial skin to get pulled, thus creating a slight depression in the skin, a dimple. A pull in the skin of a person’s chin caused by a shortened chin muscle, results in a dimpled chin. And that reminds me of the very famous rhyme, "chubby cheeks, dimple chin…"

Dimples are a dominant genetic trait and are inherited from one generation to another. Dimples on both cheeks are a common occurrence, while a single dimple that occurs on one side of the face is a relatively rarer phenomenon. As dimples are a dominant trait, only one gene is required to inherit dimples.

What are Dimples?

Dimples are simply indentations in the skin, and those that occur on the cheek are different from those on the chin, in terms of their formation. A dimple on the chin is actually called a cleft. Some people get dimples when they smile, and this usually occurs when the skin between the mouth and the cheek gets pulled in to form the indentation. Dimples are mainly hereditary in nature, but it is not necessary that every generation will have dimples. They are in fact elusive, and may skip some generations before they make an appearance again.

Dimple is a dominant trait that is genetically inherited. Anatomically, dimples are caused by the variation in facial muscle structure (zygomaticus major). Most people with dimples have dimples on both the cheeks. A single dimple on one side of the face is rarely seen. Dimples are caused due to short muscles. Babies have dimples, but they may disappear or become less noticeable as the muscles lengthen with aging.

Why do people have facial dimples?

Some people have shortened muscles. These muscles pull the skin when someone smiles, creating a classic dimple. In most cases, dimples are not visible until someone smiles. The changes in the face due to a smile bring out the dimple. With aging, dimples may disappear, as facial muscles slowly stretch out.

Some people have a dimple on the chin. It is known as cleft chin. Similar to the cheek dimples, chin dimples too are inherited with a varying degree of prominence. In the case of the latter, the groove of the cleft chin is deep enough to reach the jawbone. A chin dimple results possibly from incomplete fusion between the right and left halves of the lower jaw during embryonic development.

Strangely, dimples, which are believed to beautify your face, are actually defects in your facial muscles. They are a classic example of the adage that says, "Imperfection is beauty!"


  1. Kassandra MartinezJune 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Whose that little girl,? ^^ the Asian. She looks like my friend !! O: