Wish you had a pair of dimples on your face, but detest the ones on your butt? You’re not alone. Love them or hate them, dimples matter.
But what are dimples anyway?
Cheek dimples are actually cutesy genetic flukes caused by shortened muscles. You don’t even know you have them until you smile, as dimples are basically invisible when your cheeks are relaxed. Chin dimples are also genetic accidents, but unlike their cheeky counterparts, they are always visible.
The unlikeable kind – cellulite – develops in a different manner. It may involve fibrous connective cords that tether the skin to the underlying muscle with fat in-between. Fat cells accumulate and push up against the skin, while cords pull down, creating not-so-cute dimpling on the hips, thighs and buttocks.
The Dimples We Love
Dimples can light up a smile (think Miranda Kerr, Bar Rafaeli, and Princess Kate Middleton), and if you weren’t lucky enough to be born with them, there’s a procedure for you. Speaking of luck – dimples bring good fortune according to Asian folklore.
A plastic surgeon can literally craft dimples on your face. This is called a dimpleplasty, dimple creation surgery or a dimple procedure, and anecdotal reports suggest requests for it are on the rise.
Blame the uptick on our selfie-obsession, says Jeffrey Spiegel, MD, Chief of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and a professor at Boston University School of Medicine. “People do many ‘selfies’ and study faces more carefully these days,” he says. “There are endless images we see on social media and online so we have more opportunity to think about what we find attractive.”
Plus, he adds, “Dimples are cute and make you look friendly and approachable.”
It’s a pretty simple surgical procedure as far as these things go. “After we’ve picked the right spot (or spots), you get a small amount of local anesthesia,” Dr. Spiegel says. Your surgeon then creates the dimple via a slowly dissolving stitch. The absorbable sutures are fastened to the inside of your cheek and tied to create a natural-looking indentation. “You’ll have minimal swelling and the dimple looks a bit deep in the beginning but relaxes to a very natural appearance quickly,” he says.
All surgeries do confer risk and dimpleplasty is no exception. “The main risk is that the dimple could end up being not as deep as you want, but that’s not common,” Dr. Spiegel says. “Recovery is quick and, in general, people like how they look in about three to seven days.”
And smile – those new dimples are permanent, he adds. If you don’t like them, however, injections of hyaluronic acid filler can basically erase your new dimples. There’s another perk: dimple surgery makes your face look thinner as the cheeks lose volume.
The Dimples We Are on the Fence About
We have mixed feelings about chin dimples – also known as butt chins or cleft chins. If you need a visual, think John Stamos, Ben Affleck, Fergie, Simon Cowell and John Travolta. Chin dimples occur when the right and the left side of the jawbone muscles don’t fuse properly.
Some of us may want to get rid of chin dimples, and others wish to create them. “Chin dimples can be made with stitches or a special implant,” Dr. Spiegel says. “People ask for them sometimes.”
Surgeons can also get rid of these clefts with fat, soft tissue fillers or a chinplant. Some can be erased entirely, while others are just softened because they are too deep to truly fill.
The Dimples We Hate
Some dimples just suck. Take those on buttocks and thighs, for example.
These dimples are referred to as cellulite, and there is little we wouldn’t do to get rid of them from rubbing on dream creams to lasers, injections, surgeries and more.
Cellfina is the latest U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared device for treating cellulite on the butt and thighs. It goes after dimples with a vacuum-assisted tissue release that breaks up the bands (subcision). It’s one-and-done and results are visible within three days and last up to three years.
“It works great for buttock dimples,” says Simeon Wall, Jr., MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon at The Wall Center for Plastic Surgery in Shreveport, La. “It also works for selected dimples of thighs.” Dr. Wall conducted some of the studies that led to this device’s approval. “The Cellfina device is definitely an advancement in what we had in the past for subcision of dimples,” he says.
It’s far from being the only cellulite-busting game in town, though.
Energy-based procedures blast cellulite with radiofrequency energy, ultrasound waves and/or lasers. A series of treatments is usually needed, and there are multiple devices out there.
Mesotherapy involves injecting a solution under the skin to smooth out cellulite. Mesotherapy is not FDA approved, and there is very little in the way of solid evidence showing that it works. Some med spas also offer ionithermie cellulite reduction treatments. During these treatments, cellulite is slathered with algae or clay, the area is wrapped in plastic, and electrodes are attached to the area.
As far as creams go, products containing caffeine may dehydrate cells, which can blur cellulite, and another ingredient, retinol, thickens the skin and may reduce visible cellulite. The key word here is may, and these products would need to be continuously applied to sustain any cellulite-reduction benefits.
Diet may help reduce the appearance of cellulite – but it could also make it worse. If you are overweight, losing weight may reduce the amount of visible cellulite, but for some people, weight loss travels with loose skin, which can make cellulite even more noticeable.
The bottom line when it comes to cellulite on your bottom half? Discuss your concerns with a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist to find out what is all hype and what procedures offer hope.