Double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle: anatomy, incidence, and clinical correlation

Clin Anat. 1998;11(5):310-3. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2353(1998)11:5<310::AID-CA3>3.0.CO;2-T.


The anatomy of the double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle is investigated in a series of 50 hemifacial cadaver dissections. The double zygomaticus major muscle represents an anatomical variation of this muscle of facial expression. This bifid muscle originates as a single structure from the zygomatic bone. As it travels anteriorly, it then divides at the sub-zygomatic hollow into superior and inferior muscle bundles. The superior bundle inserts at the usual position above the comer of the mouth. The inferior bundle inserts into the modiolus below the corner of the mouth. The incidence of the double zygomaticus major muscle was 34% in the present study, as it was found to be present in 17 of 50 cadaver dissections. This study shows that variation in the individual morphology of the mimetic muscles can be a common finding. Clinically, the double or bifid zygomaticus major muscle may explain the formation of cheek "dimples." The inferior bundle was observed in several specimens to have a dermal attachment along its mid-portion, which tethers the overlying skin. When an individual with this anatomy smiles, traction on the skin may create a dimple due to this dermal tethering effect.

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Dissection
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Muscles / abnormalities*
  • Facial Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male