What Is a “Receding Chin”? How Can It Be Corrected?
Surgery to correct a receding chin is a common procedure requested by clients. Also known as retrogenia, a receding chin occurs when the chin sits too far back relative to the rest of the face.
Options to correct a receding or small chin are:
- Chin surgery to alter and reshape the bones – also known as osseous genioplasty or mentoplasty
- Implants made of artificial materials and inserted to reshape the chin
Chin implants are promoted as an easier, quicker and cheaper option, with chin implant surgery one of the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures in plastic surgery. But chin implants can create complications and we do not recommend them.
In our experience, a far better option is to reshape or reposition the underlying skeleton to give a more stable result that is in harmony with the whole face.
Thinking About Chin Surgery or Implants to Improve a Receding Chin
Overall, Dr. Deschamps-Braly does not recommend chin implants. One of the most common types of revision we are asked to perform is chin revision surgery after a previous surgeon has used an implant. Clients seeking revisions are either unhappy with the appearance of their chin and/or have medical complications from the chin implants.
In these cases, we often need to remove the implant and then perform surgery on the underlying skeleton to move the chin or lower jaw forward.
Chin implants can cause physical damage to the face and undesirable changes in the appearance of the chin. The most common visual complications occur when the implant:
- Shifts from its original location
- Moves under the skin
- Erodes into the roots of teeth
- Makes the chin look square and masculine – not acceptable for most women
- Is the wrong size and makes the face looks out of proportion
- Causes a deep groove underneath the lower lip
If you are thinking about how to correct your receding or “weak” chin, Dr. Deschamps-Braly recommends you consider reshaping your facial bones with jaw surgery or chin surgery first. Essentially, chin implants are only camouflage and can have risks, complications and side-effects. They may be recommended by cosmetic surgeons who do not have the experience and qualifications to perform surgery on the underlying skeleton of the jaw and face.
Dr. Deschamps-Braly is trained and has extensive experience in three surgical disciplines critical to improving the appearance and function of the whole face and chin:
- Plastic surgery (soft tissue surgery)
- Craniofacial surgery (surgery for the underlying facial skeleton)
- Orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery)
This enables Dr. Deschamps-Braly to choose the most effective surgical options to reshape your facial bones to give the best possible result while minimizing the risk of medical complications and the need for additional revision surgery.
Options for Chin and Jaw Surgery for a Receding Chin
The surgical options chosen to reshape the bone for chin enhancement depend on the anatomy and needs of each client.
For some people, a receding chin does not involve problems with the teeth or jaws and does not cause functional problems (e.g., with chewing). In these cases, a sliding genioplasty procedure might be appropriate to permanently change the shape of the chin.
Variations of this procedure can be used for chin augmentation surgery, chin reduction surgery and for reshaping of the chin. Sliding genioplasty also allows much larger and more stable corrections to receding chins than implants.
For this approach, the surgeon cuts the lower segment of the chin horizontally and slides it forward. The lower segment of the chin bone is then held in place with titanium plates. This approach is less likely to cause bone degradation. When planning for this surgery (see below), the surgeon should have the experience to ensure the change to the chin will be in harmony with the facial features.
A receding chin can be caused by a jaw problem and/or overbite and these can affect functions such as biting and chewing. Jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) changes the position of the lower or upper jaws to improve the function and appearance of the jaw, jawline, and face.
Under general anesthesia, the lower jaw (mandible) is cut vertically behind the teeth and the portion of bone holding the teeth is moved forward (mandibular advancement). This method can correct both a receding chin and the bite and is often used in combination with treatment for the teeth with an orthodontist.
Planning for Chin Surgery
Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a Board-Certified plastic surgeon and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery. During a consultation, he will listen to your concerns and conduct a thorough physical examination of your face.
Cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery for the chin should be planned within the context of the whole face. For example, facial plastic surgeons are often asked to perform rhinoplasty (nose surgery) because a client thinks their nose projects too far forward. Sometimes, this is not the case. Instead, the receding chin is making the nose look like it projects out too far relative to the lower face.
Changes to any feature of the face will affect the appearance of the whole face. Dr. Deschamps-Braly always considers the overall aesthetics of the face when improving the appearance or function of any feature.
Before a surgical procedure, Dr. Deschamps-Braly will use photographs, X-rays and CT scans of the face, including the facial profile. He will also ask for 3-dimensional imaging of the teeth. Sometimes he uses virtual surgery, which is a complete simulation of the procedure including precise positioning of the chin.
Recovering From Chin and Jaw Surgery
Most genioplasty procedures do not create visible scarring. They are usually performed through incisions inside the mouth so there is no external or visible evidence of surgery. The surgeon might recommend the client wears a chin strap for a short time to support the chin area during healing.
New techniques in orthognathic surgery decrease the swelling and recovery time associated with larger operations such as corrective jaw surgery.
Immediately after your surgery, you may feel discomfort and mild pain. Depending on the procedure, you may also experience tingling and swelling. Any pain should be relieved with over-the-counter or non-opioid painkillers.
Most of the pain and swelling will improve within the first few days after surgery. You may be restricted to a liquid diet for a few days. After this time you will be able to start eating soft foods and eventually return to your normal diet. Your surgeon will advise when you can return to strenuous activity.
Depending on your recommended surgery, other therapies may involve your surgeon collaborating with an orthodontist to straighten your teeth.
Want To Know More?
- Orthognathic (Jaw) Surgery
- Chin Surgery (Genioplasty/Mentoplasty)
- Long Chin Surgery
- Receding Chin Surgery
- Square Chin Surgery
- Revision Genioplasty (Chin Surgery)
- The Problem with Chin Implants
- Chin reduction surgery
References – For Those Who Like to Dig Deeper
- Feminization of the Chin: Genioplasty Using Osteotomies. Deschamps-Braly J. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, 2019;27(2):243–250.
- Approach to Feminization Surgery and Facial Masculinization Surgery: Aesthetic Goals and Principles of Management. Deschamps-Braly JC. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 2019;30(5):1352–1358.