Cleft chin
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Science calls it an imperfection, most people think it's a dimple. To describe a cleft chin either way is true. Cleft chin, or butt chin, if termed in a derogatory way, is in fact a dimple on the chin. Dimples are usually found on the cheeks, but there is this most unusual case where a dimple is located on the chin. Some Hollywood stars such as John Travolta, Michael Douglas and Cary Grant have this facial imperfection. Even fictional characters Buzz Lightyear, Superman and Captain America have one. This leaves people wondering what exactly causes a person, non-fiction at that, to have the facial characteristic. A closer look at genetics of the trait will give us the answer.


Let’s begin by returning to where it all began – fetal development. The human jaw has two sides: the right and left. These two halves must fuse together before birth to form an even and smooth chin. When something hampers this natural fusion, a baby will be born with a cleft chin.

Our facial characteristics are credited to our parents’ genes, which we inherit. The formation of a cleft chin is in fact caused by a dominant gene. However, unlike other facial characteristics, a cleft chin is not at all times an inherited trait. If you happen to have one, it does not necessarily mean that your future children will have it too.

Science explains it this way: parents contribute one set of genes each. A baby’s mother may have a certain genetic makeup the father does not, or vice versa. Ultimately, this difference or similarity in genetic makeup will determine the child’s attributes. Chances are, if both parents have genes for cleft chin, then the child will have the same trait. However, when the parents have a dissimilar trait – one gene for cleft and one for smooth chin – the children have a smaller chance of having a cleft chin.

However, even if this trait did not manifest on a child’s physical makeup, it is conclusive that the child is a carrier of this trait. A genetic carrier defined is a person that has inherited a specific trait but does not display that trait. As carriers, they are able to pass this trait to their children, who may or may not manifest the gene. It is highly possible for parents – who do not have cleft chins but are carriers of the trait – to have children with a dimple on their chins.


Because of its affinity to some of Hollywood’s greatest, some people find cleft chins a distinguished facial characteristic to have. Others who have this, however, would like to have it surgically removed—most probably because of being unglamorously taunted as “butt chin”. Good news is that most plastic surgeons around the country offer cleft chin removal service. This reconstructive surgery is non-reversible, so a person must really consider the pros and cons of undergoing one.

A person born with cleft chin can consider a small chin augmentation to correct the underlying area—since this physical attribute is not skin deep, but through the bone. A real bone or a synthetic implant may be used to round out the shape of the chin. Another option is to have Botox injections, which are used to ease manifestations of facial lines or wrinkles, as we call it. Botox calms the chin muscle so the skin smooths out, evening the cleft area.

May it be a mark of imperfection or beauty, a cleft chin is just one of the many examples of how genetics are at play. To correct it is a choice, but wouldn't anyone want a mark that is uniquely perfectly imperfect?