Survivor is my favorite show. I didn’t start watching until it had been on the air for 19 years, I have no idea what any contestant’s name is, I don’t understand any of the strategical cunning, and I zone out entirely during the physical challenges. Season 41 premieres tonight, and I will be watching for one thing. Two things, really — the dimples on the grinning little face of a master manipulator, race war instigator, and potluck freak: Survivor host Jeff Probst.
How are this man’s dimples so deep? Are they even deeper than Mario Lopez’s or Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s daughter Violet Affleck’s dimples? Are dimples the sole reason he outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted even Chris Harrison in the game of long-term reality television hosting? Does he have the deepest dimples on earth?
And most important, could I get dimples like Jeff Probst’s?
Sadly, the answer is: Not organically. Dimples are caused by a difference in the zygoticus major, the facial muscle that allows humans to emote. In the non-dimpled population, the zygoticus major begins at a bone in the cheek and connects downward to the corner of the mouth. For people with dimples, the zygoticus major splits, one part connecting to the corner of the mouth and the other to a spot below the corner of the mouth.
Dr. Jennifer Levine, a plastic surgeon in New York calls the dimple difference in the zygoticus major a “bifidity,” something I can’t change. But I can try to fudge it.
As early as 1936, American women like me have been trying to add Probstian dents to their faces. According to The Atlantic, in 1936, a Rochester woman named Isabella Gilbert invented a spring-loaded dimple machine. It looks like a metal wishbone affixed with two tiny knobs on each arm to indent the cheek fat.
One can still buy a similar contraption for $16 on Etsy from a seller out of San Antonio with a shop named Dimplethingy. Reviewers are raving about Dimplethingy’s dimple thingies. A five star rating accompanied this paean:
I love my new dimple maker. They arrived on time, I’ve had them about a week now, and I now have dimples. They do hurt but I just loosen them, or just keep them in for 10 minutes at a time, but they work and I now have permanent dimples!
Blac Chyna, née Angela Kardashian née Blac Chyna née Angela Renée White, got tasteful cheek piercings, and when she took the studs out in 2014, she was happily surprised with permanent dimples as a result of the tissue trauma. This could be a route to an eventual Probst look for me, all the while asserting my dedication to a punk lifestyle.
But what if I don’t want to put the work in but want those Probst indentations? Many social media accounts of plastic surgeons are hawking “dimpleplasty” procedures.
Levine has performed about 50 dimpleplasties over the last twenty years, but usually warns against them. “You technically do not want to do it, because it can create scarring or asymmetry. We do not encourage people to do it.”
But if I really, really wanted dimples like Jeff Probst, how would she do it? Well, from the inside out. Dr. Levine makes an incision inside the mouth through layers of muscle and fat, and inserts a suture to adhere it to the skin. A little dent that is about two or three millimeters deep is formed, and the suture dissolves on its own. It is a permanent operation that would run a few thousand dollars “per side.”
But the indentation formed is not really a dimple. It’s a manipulation of fat and skin rather than of a split in the zygomaticus major muscle, which is the circumstance that creates divots like Probst’s working with.
Are a lot of people asking to look like Jeff Probst, besides me?
“Right now, people are more interested in buccal fat removal,” Dr. Levine said. (Like Chrissy Teigen!)
As for Probst’s facial reccesses, we may never know how deep they go into his skull. When he stares into his twin abysses, do they stare back? I asked Probst for a comment via Instagram DM, but he’s got a flourishing career, and didn’t respond as of press time.
I’ll go tally the votes.