Why your nose and ears appear larger as you age, and what you can do about it.
Pinocchio may have been a fairy tale, but it’s the unfortunate truth that your nose and ears appear to grow as we age. So what’s the implication if you live to a ripe old age? What can you do to minimize the effect? And, gulp, what does this mean if you’ve had a “nose job?”
Why It Happens
Bones stop growing after puberty. But cartilage, the plastic-like substance in our ears and noses, continues to grow. Not only does cartilage grow, but earlobes also elongate from gravity, which can make ears look even larger.
Our ears are 90 percent grown by age six, and our noses are almost fully grown by the time we’re teens, but both can change shape and appear to enlarge as we age. One theory about the nose is that it has a large number of sebaceous glands, which have a high cell turnover rate and therefore growth potential. Both the ears and nose droop as soft tissue (skin, fat, and muscle) relaxes and structural support changes (bone recedes with time, so there’s less foundation to hold the skin and cartilage up). And loss of elasticity and collagen in the skin causes sagging.
What You Can Do
Heavy earrings can stretch the soft tissue of your earlobes; wear light ones. But if you’ve can’t give up hanging major bling from your ears, there’s earlobe reduction, an in-office procedure that takes about 15 minutes per ear. You can’t entirely prevent your nose and ears from drooping, but you can minimize if you start early. Avoid the sun, smoking, and weight fluctuation, and start using prescription-strength skincare products, including retinoids (which help preserve and regenerate collagen). Use these early and regularly, ideally in your 20s. But remember, it’s never too late to ensure you own happily ever after. Consult your physician for more information.
Rhinoplasties can pare down that extra cartilage that gives you that bulbous nose. And your plastic surgeon can reduce your earlobes so they remain the perfect shell shape for pearl earrings. Learn more about Rhinoplasty.