What do Jay Leno, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, and Gwyneth Paltrow have in common? They all get a lot of attention for their chins. A strong chin, a weak chin, a prominent chin, a long chin, and the list goes on, but there is no arguing chin size and shape has a strong correlation to overall face shape and appearance. Gender, genetics, aging, and body weight can all impact chin shape. Fortunately, a plastic surgeon can assist you in creating your perfect appearance.
What is the anatomy of the chin?
The chin can be defined as the bony prominence below the lower lip. The chin region and structures are collectively given the general term “mental”. The mental protuberance (or as most call it-the chin) is the midline aspect of the mandible (lower jaw). Interestingly, the lower jaw actually begins as two separate bones which then fuse centrally to create the single mandible bone seen in adults.
The chin serves as an insertion (connection) point for many of the important muscles involved in mastication (chewing). The chin is, therefore, believed to offload stress from the jaw bone during many mouth movements. There are other theories behind chin function, including its role in mate selection and speech formation although these are not as well supported.
Below the chin, in the area running back towards the neck, there are lymph nodes, nerves, blood vessels, and fat pads. The sub mental (chin) fat pad can be important in cosmetic considerations of the chin. It is a cylindrical structure more closely resembling subcutaneous fat than the buccal fat pad found in the cheek. (1)
What causes differences in the size and shape of the chin?
Variations across chin size and shape are seen within all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Men typically have more square, wider chins, while female chins are more rounded and narrow. Genetics will determine the underlying bone structure and general anatomy including fat, skin, and muscle tissue.
Weight gain is known to cause increased sub mental fat (leading to a double chin appearance), however, some thin individuals may also be predisposed to higher submental fat deposits. The jawline, neck, and face shape will also correlate strongly to the appearance of the chin. As we age, and skin loses its elasticity, it is natural for drooping and sagging to occur. Additionally, certain medical conditions (especially endocrine disorders) can cause the appearance of swelling in the sub mental area.
What are the main concerns related to chin size and shape?
Chin size and shape will be influenced by bone structure, fat tissue, and skin elasticity. Genetics, changes in weight, surrounding musculature, and natural aging will all cause variations in and to chin appearance. To better classify your unique concern a breakdown of subcategories is outlined below:
- Submental Fat (a.k.a. Double Chin): A double chin is typically correlated to excess body weight. In some individuals, however, genetic predispositions to increased submental fat can cause the appearance of a double chin even if a person is around their ideal body weight.
- Dimpled Chin: An indentation or dimple in the chin is most commonly caused by an over tightened muscle causing the skin to become retracted.
- Drooping Chin: A drooping chin is related to natural changes in skin elasticity and tone as we age. Collagen and elastin breakdown cause skin to lose structural integrity and sag.
- Large Chin: A large chin is primarily a personal aesthetic concern. If the size of the mandibular protuberance is disproportionate to other facial features, or overpowers the jaw and mouth area, one may feel their chin is too broad.
- Small or Recessed Chin: Typically, the mental protuberance extends away from the mandible (lower jaw) creating a defined chin appearance. For some individuals, a lack of definition in this area can create the appearance of a small or a recessed chin.
Who may wish to seek treatment to change their chin shape and size?
The size and shape of the chin has a strong correlation to overall facial symmetry and appearance. Both head on and in profile the chin brings definition to the jawline, neck, and mouth. Men and women of any age who feel their chin appearance is detracting from their overall appearance may benefit from one of numerous plastic surgery procedures to refine and define their chin shape and size.
How can someone change their chin size and shape?
Chin Surgery (Mentoplasty) is the general term for any procedure designed to enhance chin size, shape, and overall appearance. Whether your chin is too small, too large, drooping, sagging, or has a doubled appearance, a plastic surgery procedure can help to create your ideal aesthetic.
For Submental Fat (a.k.a. Double Chin):
There are numerous invasive and noninvasive procedures to remove excess fat. Non-surgical options include Kybella, Mesotherapy, Lipodissolve, CoolSculpting, SculpSure, NeckTite™, and Ultrasound Skin Tightening/Ultherapy. For more extensive alterations, a surgical procedure like Cervicoplasty, Tumescent Liposuction, Laser Assisted Liposuction, Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction, Water Jet Assisted Liposuction, SlimLipo, SmartLipo, Submental Liposuction, and Power Assisted Liposuction can decrease fat tissue and create a more desirable appearance.
For Dimpled Chin:
For Drooping Chin:
A Surgical Correction of Chin Ptosis involves manipulating oral muscles and altering surrounding soft tissues to tighten and tone the chin area
For a Large Chin:
For a Small or Recessed Chin:
Fillers and implants can be utilized to enhance volume, size, and shape. Chin Augmentation, Alloplastic Chin Implant , Chin Augmentation with Soft Tissue Fillers, and Osseous Genioplasty for Chin Deformity are commonly used procedures to achieve a more defined and stronger chin.
For a deeper dive into all the procedures outlined above, check out our complete guide to Chin Enhancement Solutions.
While the artistic ideal and reality of the chin appearance might not always agree, it is universally accepted that the chin is an important component of face shape and aesthetic. Regardless of your concern, a plastic surgeon can utilize a chin augmentation, chin reduction, chin implant, or chin injection procedure to create your perfect look. And if the tabloids are anything to go by, us Americans are rather taken with our chins. But let’s be honest, who would not want the mental protuberance and youthful looks of those New York and California A-listers like Nicole Kidman, Christina Hendricks, Ashlee Simpson, William Shatner, Jessica Alba, or Paulina Porizkova.
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- Y Jeblaoui, N Guedj, S Drikes, and C Vacher The Chin Fat Pad PubMed.gov; 2012-03-12
- Emil J Kohan Anatomy of the neck PubMed.gov; 2014-01-01
- Jonathan M Sykes Rejuvenation of the Aging Neck uc.davis.com
- Samad Rezaee Khiabanlo Innovative techniques for thread lifting of face and neck PubMed.gov; 2019-12-02
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