What is Dimpleplasty?

First, there was dimple piercing. Now there is dimpleplasty, a minor cosmetic surgical procedure which recreates dimples on the lower cheek or chin. It has become increasingly popular with millennials who are far more concerned with body art such as tattoo sleeves and body piercing than anti-aging. It'll be interesting to see if this trend waxes and wanes depending on celebrity culture.

Who is Dimpleplasty For?

Dimples are associated with youth, attractiveness and even good luck in some cultures. Yet ironically they are a small hereditary defect in the cheek muscle, which is either shorter than usual or has a split in it. When this muscle contracts during smiling, it pulls down on the skin to create a dimple.

Dimpleplasty enhances the smile and also contours the face. It can make round cheeks appear slimmer, add definition to the lower face and detract from smile lines. It can also be used to deepen existing dimples, or even out asymmetrical ones – symmetry is a classic sign of beauty!

What Does Dimpleplasty Entail?

This outpatient procedure is popular because it's non-invasive and quick. It's performed under local anesthetic in an examining room rather than an operating theater, and all within 30 minutes for both sides. To recreate a dimple, a small circular amount of cheek muscle and fat tissue is removed, and the hole or "dimple" is stitched into place on the inside of the cheek by a couple of absorbable stitches.

As the stitches dissolve, scar tissue forms to hold the dimple in place. The procedure is performed via the mouth, so there is no external scarring. The inside of the cheek is numbed with a local anesthetic so the patient will only feel a slight tugging on the cheek and lips. A chin dimple or cleft chin is performed via the inside of the bottom lip instead of the cheek and remains visible when at rest.

Questions About Dimpleplasty to Ask the Surgeon

Although the shape, depth and size of the dimples should all be discussed with the surgeon, results vary depending on the thickness of the skin, the face shape, the symmetry of the facial muscles and how fleshy the cheek is. A consultation is vital to manage expectations and avoid the need for a revision. (Learn more in 5 Things to Ask Your Doctor Before Considering Rhinoplasty.)

The main risk from dimpleplasty is not surgical, but from dissatisfaction with the result, which might seem asymmetrical or unnatural. Remember that whilst demand has increased, dimpleplasty is still a cutting-edge procedure, so research your surgeon thoroughly. Find out how often they perform the procedure to make sure you're confident in the end results.

Dimpleplasty Recovery

Recovery time is quick so you can go home straight afterwards and resume your normal routine. Take regular painkillers for up to a week to alleviate any soreness, although pain usually reduces after a few days and prescription painkillers are rarely needed. You can return to work the next day, but expect mild swelling and bruising on the cheeks for anything from a few days to two weeks. You'll only be able to eat soft food for a few hours afterwards because it will be uncomfortable to open your mouth.

Risks/complications

Another reason for its popularity is because dimpleplasty is low risk. Any risk of infection at the incision site is reduced by taking antibiotics for a couple of days afterwards and using an antiseptic mouthwash. Any risk of bleeding is reduced by avoiding anti-coagulates before surgery. There's a small risk of hyperpigmentation, bilateral cheek abscesses and temporary facial nerve damage, but these are all very rare.

Dimpleplasty Results

As the swelling subsides, the dimple will initially look very prominent. The stitches around the incision site dissolve after about two weeks and the dimple will slowly settle, but will still be visible at rest for several weeks. Expect to see the final result about three months afterwards.

Although results are usually permanent, if the stitch breaks during the initial healing process, (which can sometimes happen owing to swelling), then inadequate scar tissue will form, and the dimple might be too shallow and will need a revision.

Dimpleplasty Alternatives

Bear in mind that there are no long-term studies into dimpleplasty or how artificial dimples age alongside the rest of the face, especially once the skin starts to sag. Facial exercises are often touted as an alternative, but these are not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, the continual pursing of the lips might just deepen lip lines instead of creating dimples.

This is why Botox has become so successful. It relaxes the muscles which cause expression lines, but the irony might be lost on our youthful millennials.