Small and Recessed Chins: Causes, Treatments, & Surgery

The chin is a facial feature that may often go unnoticed on a conscious level, but still contributes a great deal to an individual's appearance, self-esteem, and ability to perform everyday functions such as speaking and eating with ease. Congenital medical conditions and oral health problems can result in small or recessed chins - however, plastic surgery options as well as non-surgical techniques can address the concern.

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Overview: The Chin's Influence on the Facial Profile

The positioning and size of the chin in proportion to other parts of the face can automatically send certain signals about attractiveness and strength. A prominent, strong chin might be considered appealing and is often preferred over a small chin or one that retrudes too far backwards - which is also called a weak chin.

A study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health revealed how much of a vital role the chin plays in how attractive a person is deemed. The chin and the nose were the most influential facial features that study participants focused on when viewing altered photos of various subjects being studied. Those with dental education backgrounds were more apt to view the chin as a larger cosmetic concern than the nose.

Participants who believed they were viewing an individual with an underbite found that chin position the least attractive. However, orthodontists picked out the facial profiles with protruded chins as the least attractive. Regardless of preference, the experiment confirmed that the chin is a very important facial feature.

Genetically Weak Chin

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are several reasons that a patient may complain about having "no chin." What they are referring to is the fact that they have a recessed chin, which makes their jawline appear weak.

Many people have weak chins due to genetic reasons. The person seeking guidance from a medical professional about correcting a recessed chin many times has experienced a deep overbite, where the chin was forced backwards. A weak chin profile may also be the result of certain medical conditions that cause patients to look as though they have double chins as the lower jaw sits in a position farther back from the upper jaw.

Despite the cause of the weakened chin, patients can seek solutions to improve their facial aesthetics via a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in chin surgery, or an orthodontist.

Recessed Chins and Newborns

There are times when a baby is born with a receding chin. The lower jaw bone of a fetus may form into a smaller size or stance in comparison to the upper jaw, causing it to slope backwards. This way, the infant might emerge with a receding chin that causes the lower lip to hang forward in a seemingly sulky state. Congenital conditions might be the cause of a newborn baby experiencing problems in the chin area.

Micrognathia is the term for a jaw that is smaller than normal. Although it is a relatively common condition in infants, micrognathia may correct itself over time. Other reasons for a small jaw forming in newborn babies include those related to hereditary traits passed down from parents, or due to medical syndromes.

Problems with the way the pregnancy develops, the positioning of the fetus in utero (with the baby's chin pressed again his or her chest), or other restricted growth, neurological, or connective tissue problems may also cause weak chins in newborns.

A Small Chin from An Overbite

Certain weak chins develop due to dental problems or jaw positions, such as when a person has an overbite. With a deep overbite, the chin is forced into a receded position in the direction of the individual's ears. The position of the lower jaw sitting back and away from the upper jaw can not only make the chin appear significantly smaller than normal, but it can also cause the afflicted person to appear to possess a double chin.

Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions to correct a weak chin, which ranges from receiving chin implants, orthodontic treatments, or chin surgery that directly affects the jawbone.

Surgery & Procedures: How to Fix a Small Chin

There are a variety of ways to correct a small chin, but the best option is based upon the patient's specific condition. Whereas some individuals may require orthodontic intervention, dermal filler injections in the chin periodically, or the placement of a chin implant to satisfy their chin profile needs, other conditions may necessitate surgical correction of the chin, which is called genioplasty.

Chin Augmentation with Implant Chin implants are generally comprised of synthetic materials and are surgically implanted into the chin area as part of an outpatient procedure with general or local anesthesia. The process seeks to improve the facial aesthetics of a person with a small chin, although those that have a small jaw may benefit from genioplasty instead of a chin implant.

Knowledgeable plastic surgeons may recommend additional or alternative surgeries such as a facelift, neck lift, or rhinoplasty procedures for patients who have a recessed chin because a weak chin can make a person's nose appear larger.

Jaw Implants Jaw implants, much like a chin implant, is the surgical placement of a synthetic material to permanently augment the jawline. For patients with a weak chin, the jawline may also need to be enhanced for a balanced profile.

Chin Augmentation with Fillers Dermal fillers not only add volume to the lips, cheeks, and other areas of the face, they can also help improve facial proportions for people with weak chins. Juvederm Voluma® and Radiesse® are two common soft tissue fillers that can be used as a non-surgical chin augmentation option. The fillers that are injected into the soft tissues of the chin aren't permanent and require follow-up injections every 9-12 months. However, they can give patients a realistic view of how implants or surgery may enhance their appearance.

A fat transfer procedure using the patient’s body fat is another viable option as a chin augmentation filler. The fat that remains and isn’t lost due to reabsorption may last longer than other kinds of dermal fillers and provide more benefits (such as potential stem cell advantages) to the skin in the chin area.

Osseous Genioplasty The chin surgery known as genioplasty involves incisions inside the lower lip to access and alter the lower jaw bone and chin. A small saw is used to cut the jaw bone and move it into an optimal position, attaching it to the jaw with screws and plates.

The results of the horizontal sliding genioplasty surgical procedure may take two to three months to realize after all swelling and bruising have subsided.

Dental Treatments Braces can often fix a minor overbite that causes a receding chin, with an orthodontic treatment helping the chin to emerge as the overbite is corrected. Healthy teeth may simply be misaligned, with the "bad bite" causing problems such as weak chins, jaw pain, and headaches. Based on the individual situation, a better option for some patients may involve bringing the lower and upper teeth into better alignment to improve the chin's appearance. As with any procedure, the dentist will likely first take X-rays to determine the best course of action.

Relationship Between Chin & Nose Proportions

The appearance of the nose affects how the chin is perceived, and vice versa. A weak chin can make the nose appear longer and larger, leading people to believe they strictly need rhinoplasty surgery. However, afflicted patients may want to consider tandem procedures to address nose and chin problems simultaneously.

A small and receded chin can also make an individual appear to have jowls and a double chin. Since the size and positioning of the chin are vital to the nasal region proportions, it is important to keep the two facial features in close symmetry with one another. That’s why it is common for patients to undergo nose and chin alterations at the same time since they play so much off of each other.

Conclusion

Overall, a small or recessed chin can occur for any number of reasons. An infant might be born with a weak chin due to congenital issues, or a person may develop a small jaw or weak chin over time because of a deep underbite and jaw alignment issues.

No matter the cause of the smaller chin, there are quite a few options that the patient can choose from to address their condition. Non-invasive or minimally invasive options such as receiving braces or chin injections may help certain individuals correct their weak chins. Other people may learn that plastic surgery is their best option to correct their small chins - either with chin implants or surgery that moves the chin into a better position.

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