What to Know About Nose and Ear Growth as You Age

You may have heard that your nose and ears never stop growing. As you get older, you might notice that your nose looks bigger or your earlobes look longer than they did when you were younger. Is there any truth to the idea that they are still growing?

Your nose and ears indeed change as you get older, but it isn’t that they’re growing. Instead, what you’re seeing is the effects of skin changes and gravity. Other parts of your body change in the same ways, but your ears and nose are more visible and more noticeable.

Learn more about why your nose and ears change over time and what you can do to make it look like you’ve turned back the clock.

People Don’t Grow Forever

Most people stop growing sometime around the age of 20. By this time, our skeletons have reached their final size, and the growth plates between bones have fused closed. Once that happens, there is no way for the bones to grow anymore. 

The only bones that continue to get larger are the skull and the pelvis. The growth of these two body parts isn’t dramatic, however. Your pelvis might gain an inch in diameter between the ages of 20 and 79, and your skull may get slightly more prominent around the forehead.

Soft Tissue and Cartilage Changes

Your skin, cartilage, and muscles, however, continue to change even after your skeleton has stopped growing. Weight changes, pregnancy, changes in fitness levels, and injuries all change your body throughout your life. In addition, time weakens the connective tissues in skin and cartilage. This weakening is what leads to changes in your ears and nose.

Noses and ears are made of cartilage, a flexible tissue that’s harder than skin but softer than bone. It wears down over time and doesn’t give as much support to the skin on top of it. Your skin also loses elasticity and firmness over time, and it tends to sag. Loose or sagging skin over a weaker cartilage frame makes ears and noses look longer.

You may also find that the rest of your face changes in ways that emphasize your nose or ears. If your cheeks and lips look thinner, your nose might look bigger by comparison. A looser jawline could draw attention to ear lobes that hang lower than they used to.

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Can You Stop Your Nose or Ears From Sagging?

Unfortunately, the effects of age and gravity are hard to prevent. Some people are more prone to sagging skin than others, so their noses or ears will change naturally. In some cases, earlobes change because of wearing heavy earrings over the years. Or you may have injured the areas around your nose or ears, which could cause appearance changes as well.

If you don’t like the way your nose and ears look, you can talk to a plastic surgeon about the problem. There are several solutions that correct changes to your nose or ears. 

Ear lobe lift . Ear lobe reductions are popular procedures for improving the look of sagging ears. Your doctor will talk about the different techniques with you to decide what will work best. The procedure is usually done in a doctor’s office and only requires a local anesthetic. Most people can resume regular activity in a day or so. You will be completely recovered after your doctor removes stitches in five to 14 days.

Rhinoplasty. You can get a “nose job” to fix changes to your nose. Changes in nose shape can cause an obstruction that makes it harder to breathe, and surgery can correct this problem as well. However, rhinoplasty is major surgery that requires general anesthesia, and the recovery process can take many weeks. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Other cosmetic procedures. Some people find that their nose and ears look more prominent because of other changes to their faces. If you have lost volume in your cheeks and lips, this might draw attention to your nose or ears. You can speak with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon about procedures to restore that lost volume. Simple procedures like injectable fillers or microneedling might be just the thing to give your whole face more balance.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES: 

AEDIT: “Earlobe Reduction," “Facial Volume.”

Colorado Primary Health Care: “When do You Stop Growing?”

Flushing Hospital Medical Center: “Truth or Myth: Our Nose and our Ears Never Stop Growing.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Why your face ages and what you can do.”

Kenneth Yu, MD: “Am I Too Old for a Nose Job?”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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