Does Your Nose Grow With Age?

Mother touching daughter's nose

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Your nose is an essential organ, serving two key purposes, to bring warm, humidified air into your lungs, and to provide the sense of smell. It also is a prominent feature of a person's face, so the nose carries aesthetic importance, in addition to functionality.

While it's true that noses come in all shapes and sizes, the building blocks of noses are the same in everyone. These building blocks include bone, cartilage, skin, muscles, and soft tissue.

Specifically, bone, cartilage, and skin are what give form and structure to your nose, and these components change and evolve with age, which can ultimately alter the size and shape of your nose over time.

How Your Nose Changes Over Time

In order to determine how the nose changes over the course of a lifetime, researchers in one study examined three-dimensional analyses of photographs of almost 900 Caucasian study participants between the ages of 4 and 73 years.

The researchers examined several nasal "landmarks": height, bridge length, the lengths of both nostrils, the tip protrusion to nasal height ratio, nasal width, and tip angles. Then they sorted the data by age and gender.

They found that all measurements were significantly affected by age—specifically, nasal volume, area, and liner distance increased. In other words, they found that noses appeared to get bigger and longer over time.

But the question remains: does your nose actually grow with age? The answer is "sort of," because it depends on what stage of life you are referring to—let's explore some more.

Nasal Growth in Early Life

In childhood, adolescence, and perhaps into early adulthood, the nose is definitely growing. Think of the nose you had as a baby, and what it looked like later as a teenager. Your nose obviously got bigger, as it grew along with the rest of your face and body.

The timing of when exactly the nose stops growing is debated among experts. Some researchers report that the nose stops growing around age 12, while other researchers report an older age, around 16 or 17, or even early adulthood. Gender and ethnicity may explain these differences.

This all said, once you reach adulthood, a person's nose stops growing. Therefore, a "larger" nose cannot be attributed to growth, but rather to the deterioration of key structures within the nose.

Structural Nasal Changes in Later Life

With aging in adulthood, the nose undergoes many structural or anatomical changes, such as:

  • Thinning of and loss of elasticity of the nasal skin
  • Drooping of the nasal tip
  • A weakening and excessive softening of the nasal cartilage
  • In some instances, the nasal cartilage ossifies and becomes brittle
  • Separation of the attachments between the upper and lower cartilage pieces on the side of the nose

Ultimately, these changes can result in overall lengthening of the nose.

Bottom Line

Due to the aging process, the shape of your nose evolves over time, and these changes in shape can make the nose appear, and even measure, larger.

Implications of a "Larger" Nose

No doubt, the aging process can take its toll on your nose's cartilage and skin, and this can lead to changes that you may perceive as cosmetically unappealing. In addition, these age-related changes can impact the functioning of your nose and contribute to progressive nasal obstruction (blockage).

This is why some people opt for surgery on their nose to improve their appearance and/or quality of life.

A Word From Verywell

In the end, if you are an adult and are concerned that your nose is growing—rest assured, it is not. Instead, the beautiful, natural process of aging is altering the shape of your nose, making it appear larger, that's all.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sharma P, Arora A, Valiathan A. Age changes of jaws and soft tissue profile. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014;2014:301501. doi: 10.1155/2014/301501

  2. Lee JW, McHugh J, Kim JC, Baker SR, Moyer JS. Age-Related Histologic Changes in Human Nasal Cartilage. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(4):256-262. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2013.825

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