Trend-based cosmetic surgery is at an all-time high, and now people are asking doctors to give them surgically-formed dimples, in ongoing pursuit of perfection.
In a country in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, there are many things that people are being forced to give up.
For some, it’s their iced soy latte from their favourite cafe each morning, which has inexplicably risen to $8.50 a pop. Others have been forced to cut back on their gym memberships or wellness therapies, with
For many, it’s not a specific thing they’ve had to drop from the budget, but a general tightening of purse strings that indicates they need to ease up on the Afterpay.
One thing people are not cutting back on, however, is cosmetic treatments – with Aussies spending $1 billion a year on nail appointments, facials, waxing and plastic surgery. With more than 500,000 procedures a year, it’s actually more popular per capita than the US.
But people are getting more adventurous with their cosmetic requests, with Traptox and Fox Eye procedures becoming increasingly popular. Now, there’s a new trend that’s moving rapidly up the list of treatments: dimple surgery.
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Doing anything for dimples
There are a few different ways people are going about their pursuit for dimples.
The first are ‘dimple makers’ – cheap devices you can order online and wear at home to create a dimple in your cheeks. At the time of writing, #dimplemakers has 61.9 million views on TikTok, and growing, with hundreds of videos published demonstrating the progress people have made from wearing theirs.
The tools themselves are made from hard metal with a ball on each end that is hooked onto the cheek, with the idea that consistent wear will alter the long-term appearance of the face.
Australian Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr Paul Coceancig says that while these devices come with bold claims, “they can’t really work permanently or absolutely naturally. Because either you have a risorius muscle (the smile muscle) that makes the dimples or you don’t.”
With that in mind, the so-called results of dimple makers aren’t enough for many people – or at least aren’t fast enough – for those who want the immediate and enduring appearance of dimpled cheeks.
The alternative is surgical measures, of which there are semi-permanent and permanent options for those looking to get serious about their pursuit of dimples.
Semi-permanent dimple surgeries
For those who aren’t having much luck with dimple makers, but who aren’t ready to commit to permanent ones, there are surgical options to temporarily create the appearance of dimples. It’s a procedure which Dr Coceancig says is “quite simple”.
“From inside the mouth, a small stitch is made using a resorbable suture and the thread is oriented to sweep just underneath the skin where you want the dimple. And the knot is tightened,” he tells Body+Soul.
“Too tight and you have a full-time dimple. Even when you’re asleep. If you gradually release the knot tension (like adjusting your shoe laces), you can see if a dimple forms only when you smile” – just like a natural dimple.
The key to the semi-permanence of these dimples is the dissolvable stitch. “Tie the knot, and about six weeks later the knot dissolves, and the dimple will too,” says Dr Coceancig.
The only caveat to that being if the knot is too tight, which can “damage the fat just underneath the skin – causing a deep permanent crease, and even damage to the health of your overlying skin.”
You need to be awake for this kind of surgery, so the patient can smile on and off, to see when the dimple appears, thus how tight the knot needs to be. When the surgery is complete, if you don’t like how it looks, you can just untie the visible insite kit with a toothbrush, any time before it totally dissolves, and “It’s just gone”.
“You don’t need anything more than a bit of topical anaesthetic cream (EMLA) to make the needle relatively painless.
Permanent dimple surgeries, aka Dimpleplasty
Dimpleplasty refers to a surgical procedure that is designed to permanently alter the cheeks to create the appearance of dimples. As per the semi-permanent solutions, it’s typically a purely aesthetic decision, not a surgery done for medical reasons.
So how exactly does it work? “Imagine the fat in your face as like a complex net of floating beach balls,” says Dr Coceanig. “All interspersed amongst wonderful muscles and nerves and oxygen-rich glowing blood vessels. And surrounded by healthy skin that pulls back to reveal beautiful white teeth, pink gums, and your inner warmth.”
“If you want to permanently create a dimple then you need to affect the natural 3D bubble-like net of fat that makes your face bouncy and beautiful”.
One option is buccal fat pad removal surgery (BFPR), which is another trending cosmetic procedure, particularly amongst celebrities, that’s gone viral this past year.
“BFPR can draw in the cheeks a little, reducing cheek fullness, and make a hint of a cheek crease that maybe you might just see a little more obvious,” says Dr Coceanig. “By making the cheeks less full, BFPR can really help to accentuate the cheekbones…but removing fat cells is a permanent procedure.”
It is safe, he says, but only in safe hands. And as is the way with most cosmetic procedures, a little goes a long way.
The other solution is filling the cheeks in a way that creates a dimple. “Having light body filler, in small amounts, can lift the skin surface and vibrancy of your facial skin. It can help give back that youthful bounce to skin,” says Dr Coceanig.
Alternatively, “An accredited plastic and reconstructive surgeon can also take a tiny amount of fat from around your belly button, or inside-thighs. A special way of preparing it can produce deeper cheek fat to refill those ‘magic nets’.
“A more superficial special “nano-fat” can also try to create layers of cheek bounce, and to help create that special smiley dimple,” he says. “Layering and carefully applying the fat can try to form that magic dimple, and with a little resorbable stitch too.”
Why the dimple mania?
With the ultra virality of social media these days, paired with the user-generated content model of the most popular apps, we live in a perfect storm for plastic surgery.
The culture of comparison is at an all-time high, as is our exposure. As the age old adage states, you cannot be what you cannot see – only in this case, you can be anything you see, as long as you can afford it and are willing to pay the price.
“Face shaming, the delicateness of normal teenage maturation, online bullying and trolling, digital media and celebrity images driving insecurity amongst the youth, and ultimately the rise and rise of anxiety and depression and body dysmorphia – all of this plays a part,” says Dr Coceanig.
“People want to look like their favourite celebs (think Miranda Kerr’s dimples) or influencers, without remembering that we are all born with certain physical characteristics that make us uniquely us.”
Unrealistic standards of beauty are shoved in our face every single day on our phones, and with the rise in filter culture, it’s impossible to escape these computer-engineered versions of perfection, which ultimately, none of us will ever meet.
So while dimple makers are cheap, and dimpleplasty is possible and relatively accessible, the real question is whether it’s worth it.