Written by Karah Frizzell

Ask the Doctor: Does the nose grow or get bigger with age?

The nose doesn’t technically “grow” in the way that many people think, but its appearance can change over time due to various factors related to aging. Here’s what happens:

  1. Cartilage and Gravity: The nasal tip is made up of cartilage, not bone. As we age, the cartilage in our nose becomes weaker and may start to sag, giving the appearance of a longer or droopier nose. The constant pull of gravity on the nasal tip can accentuate this sagging.
  2. Connective Tissue Changes: Over time, the connective tissue (collagen and elastin fibers) in our skin loses its elasticity. This loss of elasticity, combined with the sagging of cartilage, can cause the nose to appear larger or more bulbous.
  3. Facial Changes: The structures around the nose also change with age. For example, as we age, we lose volume in our cheeks. This can make the nose appear more prominent because the surrounding structures have shrunk or sagged.
  4. Skin Thickness: The skin on the nose can thicken over time, especially due to sun damage or conditions like rosacea. This thickening can alter the nose’s appearance.
  5. Bone Changes: Some studies suggest that the bony structures of the face, including the nasal bones, might undergo changes as we age, which can impact the nose’s appearance.

While the nose might appear larger or longer due to these factors, it’s not “growing” in the way our bones grow during childhood and adolescence. The changes are more related to the effects of aging on cartilage, skin, and surrounding facial structures.