The farther you get past the age of six, the harder it becomes to look utterly adorable to anyone but the person sleeping with you. Beautiful, distinguished, wise — yes. But not cheek-squeezingly cute. (Fine, unless your name is Miranda Kerr.)
So what's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl wannabe to do? Well, at one time, she might have bought some cat-eared flats and a ukelele, cut bangs, and called it a day. But we're living in the age of Instagram and truly bizarre beauty treatments, which means surgical dimples and freckle tattoos are procedures that exist — and are seeing a surge in popularity at the moment.
Turns out, though, neither are new (or covered by insurance — nice try). Plastic surgeon Dara Liotta, MD, tell us dimpleplasty, as it's called, is huge in Korea, but has been around here for a long time, too. Both she and plastic surgeon and RealSelf contributor Sheila S. Nazarian, MD, credit social media and the damn front-facing camera with the rise in Botox, fillers, and more niche treatments such as this. "I think in the age of selfies, women care more about small changes to their face that can improve their overall image. Some of my patients think a dimple will make them look 'cute,'" says Dr. Nazarian. And it might at first, but Dr. Liotta warns that this permanent surgery does not age well.
Think about it like this: "When people have a natural dimple, the skin is tethered below [to the double zygomaticus major muscle] and it's basically the equivalent of scar tissue, not from a trauma, but the way you developed, so they're not very deep," says Dr. Liotta. "When you recreate that, you make an incision in the cheek and stitch the deeper skin to deeper layers. You're anchoring that skin to a deeper layer, and as you age and everything comes down, so does that dimple. And once you've created that scar band, it's very hard to reverse."
If you still really want those little indents the gods so cruelly withheld from you, plastic surgeon David Shafer, MD, says it's important to have a detailed discussion with your doctor to understand the risks and benefits. "Unlike fillers, which can be dissolved, or Botox, which always metabolizes away in three to five months, [dimpleplasty] gives permanent results. "Another consideration is that most dimples occur when a [person] smiles and are less apparent or disappear at rest. However, dimples created by dimpleplasty can sometime occur even at rest — especially during the first few weeks to months after surgery," he says.
Then there's freckle tattooing, which is exactly what it sounds like and can be either semi-permanent, like micro-blading your eyebrows, or permanent. Cosmetic tattoo artist Gabrielle Rainbow, who is based out of Montreal, is one of the main forces behind the resurgence of faux freckles, thanks to the natural-looking results of her work she posts to her Instagram.
Nevertheless, dermatologist Roy G. Geronemus, MD, who specializes in laser surgery, says he's been seeing — and removing — them since the '90s, when people were trying to recreate Cindy Crawford's mole with permanent ink. "I don’t think tattooed freckles look particularly good. One of the things about freckles is they lighten and darken with sun exposure, so when you tattoo them and they don’t [do that], it can look awkward," he says, but adds that the upside is they're fairly easy to remove.
At the end of the day, we're never going to judge anyone's reason for getting a cosmetic procedure, but if the only thing that's motivating you to tattoo your face or stitch in your cheeks is the promise of looking cute, just realize you might be disappointed. The Snapchat Bratz doll filter, on the other hand, will never do you wrong.