What Causes Dimples And Why Do Some People Have Them?

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What Causes Dimples?

Dimples are cute, so why can't we all be so lucky?

When I was young, people would always tell me that I had the cutest dimples when I smiled. Honestly, I hated my dimples and thought they were weird.

For a while, I disliked smiling because I didn’t want people to see that I had them. I always wondered why do people have dimples? ... simply because I wanted to know if there was a way to get rid of them.

Eventually, I grew out of disliking my dimples.

Nowadays, I actually have to work my facial muscles hard to show my dimples at all.

The fact that they can simply disappear only makes the entire question of where dimples come from a bit more baffling to me. Seriously, what gives?

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you ever wondered what causes dimples on some people? I did too, which is why I decided to do a little research to get to the bottom of this little-thought-of mystery.

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So, what are dimples, really?

A dimple is a dent in your skin that is caused by the structure of your underlying flesh and muscle. They’re the little dips in cheeks and chins that happen when someone smiles, typically found a couple of centimeters away from the corners of your mouth. Most people who have dimples will have them in a pair, though it is possible to have a dimple on a single side of your face.

So, what causes the appearance of dimples?

Dimples are caused by having differences in the zygomaticus major facial muscle structure. In plain English, this means that having dimples is caused by having some facial muscles that are a bit shorter than others. When you smile, your longer facial muscles get pulled by the shorter ones in your zygomaticus major.

Or, to put it more bluntly, plastic surgeon Brent Moelleken says, “Cheek dimples are a genetically transmitted abnormality of a muscle in the cheek."

The uneven pull between uneven muscles ends up giving the very “dimple” effect that makes people think of cuteness during a grin. Since facial muscles are at their shortest when you’re at rest, most people’s dimples are hidden when they aren’t laughing or smiling.

With chin dimples, part of the reason why they exist deals with your bone structure. Simply put, a bone structure that includes a cleft chin will result in chin dimples. The deeper the cleft, the more pronounced your chin dimple will be.

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So what causes some people to have dimples when others don’t?

Genetics, for the most part. Scientists have noticed that having dimples is something that is a hereditary trait. People who have dimples are way more likely to have kids who have dimples, regardless if it’s a cleft chin or a those “Shirley Temple” dimples people get on their cheeks.

Interestingly enough, dimples aren’t always a lifelong thing. Some people (like myself) were born with dimples that just fade away as they get older. For others, they are perma-dimpled. Since many peoples’ dimples disappear, they are generally seen as a trademark of youth.

It’s also worth noting that dimples are technically a birth defect. Shorter facial muscles are associated with an issue in the way embryos develop in the uterus. That being said, there’s nothing really wrong with having dimples and it’s not like it’s an indicator of anything that will hurt you later in life. Just like Liz Taylor’s “defect” of having an extra row of eyelashes and violet eyes, dimples are a birth defect that do no harm aside from make others jealous.

Weight gain also can cause dimples. As excess fat gets added to the face, dimples tend to show up simply because there’s not much place for that extra stuff to go. As you lose weight, those dimples will fade away.

If you really want dimples but don’t want the weight gain or haven’t been born with them, there’s another cause of dimples that might work for you: plastic surgery. That’s right, surgeons actually took the time to come up with a procedure that allows you to get dimples.

Would we suggest it? Probably not, but hey, if you want dimples that badly, you can definitely go for it.

Why are dimples considered cute?

Don’t ask me — I hated mine. But I’ll tell you what scientists think.

Some evolutionary scientists believe that people have dimples as a way to trigger “cuteness bonding” with infants. As humans evolved, dimples became a sign of being extremely attractive while still giving people an impetus to remain nurturing towards the dimpled person. That being said, the theory has not been fully proven.

A handful of people also believe that this could be a societal thing. Either way, with people like Ariana Grande and Cheryl Cole being dimple owners, it’s safe to say that this is one trait that will probably remain a sign of beauty for years to come.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.