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Dimples: The Cute Trait With a Fascinating Genetic Twist

People have long admired dimples as one of the cutest features a person can have. But have you ever wondered why some people have dimples and others don’t? The answer lies in our genes.

Dimples are those adorable little indentations on the skin that are usually found on the cheeks, but they can also pop up on other parts of the body, like the chin and lower back. Cheek dimples, which sit on the sides of the mouth, are particularly popular. You might have a dimple on both sides, or just one.

So, what causes these cute dimples? It all comes down to differences in the facial muscles and skin. Specifically, it’s all about the zygomaticus major muscle. This muscle helps lift the corners of your mouth when you smile. In people without dimples, this muscle runs as a single bundle from the cheekbone to the corner of the mouth. However, in people with dimples, this muscle may split into two bundles. One bundle attaches to the corner of the mouth, while the other attaches below the corner and connects to the skin above it. This split, known as a double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle, causes the skin to indent when the muscle contracts, creating that charming dimple.

Now, let’s talk genetics. Dimples are often considered a dominant trait, meaning if one of your parents has them, there’s a good chance you might too. However, the inheritance of dimples isn’t always straightforward. Some researchers classify dimples as an irregular dominant trait, meaning they’re often, but not always, inherited as a dominant trait. This suggests that multiple genes might influence whether you get dimples, and more research is needed to fully understand their genetic basis.

The number of people with dimples can vary depending on the population. One study of over 2,300 people found that about 37 percent had cheek dimples. So, while dimples are fairly common, they’re not universal.

Dimples can also change over time. Some kids are born with dimples that might disappear as they grow older, while others might develop dimples later in childhood. This makes the genetics behind dimples even more intriguing.

Sometimes mistakenly labeled as a birth defect due to a muscle variation during fetal development, dimples are harmless and have no negative health effects. In fact, many people find them quite attractive. Various cultures associate dimples with beauty, youthfulness, and even good luck. Some people think dimples make a person look more approachable or enhance their smile.

Interestingly, dimples might even help with communication. Research on facial features suggests that dimples can make expressions more noticeable and convey more about a person’s emotions.

Dimpleplasty is an option for those who desire dimples but were not born with them. This plastic surgery involves making a small cut where the dimple will be and removing a bit of tissue. A stitch is then passed through the skin and muscle to create the dimple. If you’re thinking about this procedure, it’s important to talk to a qualified plastic surgeon about the potential risks and benefits.

In the end, dimples are a charming and fascinating feature with a complex genetic background. Dimples showcase the beauty of genetic diversity and the unique traits that make each person unique, even though there’s still much to learn about their inheritance. So, the next time you see someone with dimples, you’ll know there’s an interesting genetic story behind that cute smile!