What is a cleft chin? Humans are the only animals with chins. Some people have a prominent dimple or crease in the front of their chin, called a cleft chin or "butt chin." Cleft chins affect both men and women, which have a genetic component and form inside the womb, but many people have chins that are intermediate between cleft and totally smooth.
The lower jaw bone (mandible) often has prominent tubercles on either side, but this does not contribute much to a cleft chin. In fact, the overlying paired chin (mentalis) muscles may have a wide space separating them or very thick muscles that create a deep central groove.
How to correct a prominent cleft chin
There are a few ways to improve the appearance of a deep chin cleft, which vary in permanence, invasiveness and cost.
- Dermal fillers – Synthetic soft tissue fillers can be injected into the chin cleft or dimple in an office setting in just a few minutes. Your plastic surgeon will help determine if a superficial or deeper injection works better depending on the depth of the cleft. While safe and reversible, these fillers tend to last six to twelve months.
- Fat grafting – Your own fat can be used as a more permanent filler with a high rate of success, but it may increase the overall chin size. Using liposuction, a small amount of fat is removed from the belly area, refined, and transferred into the central chin.
- Botox – These injections can paralyze the chin muscles to minimize the appearance of the cleft, but these effects only last a few months. Botox is often combined with fillers to achieve a synergistic effect.
- Genioplasty – Chin surgery involves modifying the jaw bone and/or adjusting the location of the chin muscles (mentalis), which have the advantage of being able to correct a greater defect without a visible incision. The results of surgery are usually permanent. The disadvantages include the need for anesthesia, longer recovery time, and higher cost. Chin implants may also be used to give the central chin a rounder shape. An experienced plastic surgeon will make appropriate recommendations based on your facial characteristics and chin anatomy to achieve a balanced facial harmony. Keep in mind that it will take several weeks to months for final results to appear. It is important to note that a very prominent chin cleft is very difficult to completely reverse using surgery alone in order to maintain a natural appearance.
For more information, including a list of ASPS plastic surgeons in your community, please use our Find A Plastic Surgeon tool. A consultation with a board-certified or -eligible plastic surgeon can determine if you are the right candidate for cleft chin removal and choose which procedure will work best for you.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.