Ears and nose never stop growing ?

In July 1993, 19 members of the south east Thames faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners gathered at Bore Place, in Kent, to consider how best to encourage ordinary general practitioners to carry out research. Someone said, "Why do old men have big ears? Some members thought that this was obviously true--indeed some old men have very big ears--but others doubted it, and so we set out to answer the question "As you get older do your ears get bigger?"206 patients were studied (mean age 53.75, range 30-93, median age 53 years). The length of the left external ear was measured from the top to the lowest part with a transparent ruler; the result (in millimetres), together with the patient's age, was recorded. The mean ear length was 675 mm (range 520-840 mm), and the linear regression equation was: ear length=55.9+(0.22 x patient's age) (95% confidence intervals 0.17 to 0.27). It seems therefore that as we get older our ears get bigger (on average by 0.22 mm a year). (James A Heathcote BMJ 1995;311:1668, 23December)

But there are other reasons than continued growth that could explain this. Maybe fewer people who are old now had plastic surgery for large ears when they were young, and lots of young people are having plastic surgery for large ears. These are alternative explanations. One of the things that does happen is that skin loses elasticity as we age, so it stretches. Ear lobes tend to increase in length with age.

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