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20 Feb 2014

Ear growth with age

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Have you ever noticed that older people tend to have larger ears than younger people? Is it possible that our ears keep growing until the day we die? A quick search of the internet on this subject will reveal many differing opinions. So what does the research show us?

Our ears are 90 % grown by age 6. On average with each extra year of adult life our ears will lengthen by 0.22mm. The ear canal (ear opening) however does not increase in size over the years. The external ear is made up of cartilage, fat and skin. Cartilage found on any other part of the body (such as the nose) is not known to continue to grow after overall body growth ceases at around age 18. So why are our ears getting longer if they are not growing?

The most likely explanation is that as we age our skin loses elasticity causing it to sag. This occurs all over the body, causing the ears and earlobes to droop and elongate. In addition, skin all over the face is losing fat and collagen which reduces plumpness and alters the shape, resulting in the ears appearing more prominent in comparison. So in fact it appears that our ears are not growing, but our heads are shrinking!