What is a receding chin?
Retrogenia is a condition that occurs when your chin projects slightly backward toward your neck. This feature is also called a receding chin or a weak chin.
What causes it?
Your jaw is a complex structure of bone and soft tissues. What we traditionally call the jaw is a structure called the mandible, or lower jaw. The mandible determines the actual position of your chin, while surrounding tissues can affect its appearance.
The upper and lower jaws have a relatively set relationship to each other based on the normal anatomy of a skeleton. When the chin is set back excessively compared to the upper jaw, this is called retrogenia, or a receding chin.
Retrogenia is usually something that is determined by your genetics. In most cases, it’s a cosmetic concern and doesn’t affect the function of your speech or eating. However, retrogenia can also occur with some congenital conditions such as Pierre Robin sequence and Treacher Collins syndrome, where having a small jaw can also impair breathing in very small infants. This usually improves as the baby and the jaw grow over time.
In many cases, a receding chin is a natural part of aging in both men and women. As you grow older, you may naturally lose a bit of bone and soft tissue around your jaw, leading to retrogenia.
Some people are simply born with a receding chin or develop one due to an overbite. In these cases, wearing braces can sometimes bring the chin back out.
Can exercises help?
The internet is full of different exercises that promise to fix a receding chin. These often involve stretching your neck and chin area up and down. This is supposed to help strengthen the chin muscles and tighten any loose skin.
While these exercises seem promising, they won’t fix a receding chin. Your chin’s position is determined by bone and soft tissue, not muscles.
What about surgery?
To get rid of a receding chin, you’ll likely need surgery. Both chin implants and sliding genioplasty, which involves cutting and reshaping your lower jaw bone, can help. Before opting for surgery, keep in mind that you’ll need about six weeks to fully recover. In addition, most insurance companies won’t cover surgery to fix a receding chin unless it’s causing health problems.
Chin implants, also called chin augmentation, are a good option for retrogenia due to the lack of soft tissue. During this outpatient procedure, your surgeon makes an incision along the crease of your chin, usually where the inside of your mouth meets your gum line. They’ll insert the implant and close up the incision. Chin augmentation may be done with either general or local anesthesia.
This type of surgery is best for mild to moderate cases of receding chin, where your chin might look smaller than the rest of your facial features. There’s also little to no scarring involved. However, there is a risk of nerve damage and infection. Some people may also be allergic to the implants, which can cause negative reactions.
Sliding genioplasty is a better option for more severe receding chins caused by bone loss. For this type of surgery, your doctor will make an incision on both sides of your chin so they can access your lower jaw bone. They’ll then make a small cut in the part that makes up your chin. This allows them to move part of the bone forward. They’ll use a small metal plate to keep the repositioned bone in place.
Sliding genioplasty requires general anesthesia and carries a greater risk of scarring and infection. Make sure to tell your doctor if you start to develop a fever, excessive bleeding, or oozing near the incision during your recovery.
The Bottom line
Receding chins are a common cosmetic annoyance, and the internet is full of neck and chin exercises that promise to fix it. While these exercises can’t change the shape of your chin, chin implants and sliding genioplasty can. Talk to your doctor about which option works best for your chin.