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Why is my nose getting wider as I get older?

It’s common for people to notice their nose seeming to get wider and larger as they age. There are a few reasons why this happens.

The nose continues growing as you age

One factor is that the nose keeps growing throughout adulthood. The nose is made mostly of cartilage, which continues to grow and expand over time. This gradual enlargement occurs slowly and isn’t usually noticeable until later in life.

According to research, the nose grows an average of 0.55 millimeters (mm) per year after age 30. By age 40, the nose may have widened by 1.5 mm from age 30, and by age 50, the nose may have widened by 2.5 mm from age 30. This slow pace of growth adds up over the decades to result in a noticeably wider nose in older adulthood.

The nose drops with age

Another reason your nose may appear larger is that the cartilage in your nose becomes weaker with age. This causes the nasal tip to droop down and protrude further out, making your nose look longer and larger.

This effect is exaggerated by the loss of collagen, elastin, and facial fat that occurs as part of the natural aging process. These changes can make your nose look disproportionately big compared to the rest of your shrinking facial features.

The nose becomes more bulbous

As you age, your nose also tends to develop a more bulbous, rounded shape. This is due to weakening cartilage leading to a loss of structural support in the nose.

Over time, the cartilage between the tip and bridge of the nose wears down. This allows the fatty tissue in the nose to sag, creating a bulbous, swollen appearance often referred to as a “bulbous nose tip.”

Genetics can make some people more prone to developing a bulbous nose than others. But in general, increased bulbosity comes along with aging for most noses.

Other factors that enlarge the nose

Some other factors beyond aging can also cause the nose to appear larger, such as:

  • Weight gain – Fat accumulation on the nose makes it look wider.
  • Rosacea – Chronic facial redness and swelling.
  • Rhinophyma – Oversized, bulbous nose from rosacea.
  • Medications – Corticosteroids may cause fluid retention.
  • Excessive alcohol use – Can inflame the nose.
  • Sun exposure – Damages skin elasticity over time.

When a growing nose is a concern

While a slightly larger nose is normal with age, an excessively large or rapidly enlarging nose could signal an underlying health condition. See your doctor promptly if you notice any of the following:

  • Sudden dramatic growth of the nose
  • Nose bleeds
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Tenderness, pain, or numbness in the nose
  • Development of lumps, ulcers, or sores on the nose

These types of symptoms may indicate issues like nasal polyps, nasal tumors, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), or skin cancer. Your doctor can examine your nose and determine if any testing is needed to diagnose a possible medical problem requiring treatment.

How to prevent further enlargement of the nose

While you can’t totally stop the natural aging process, there are some precautions you can take to minimize unnecessary nose enlargement:

  • Quit smoking – Smoking cigarettes accelerates facial aging and collagen loss.
  • Wear SPF daily – Protect your skin from sun damage.
  • Moisturize – Keep your skin hydrated to preserve elasticity.
  • Avoid extreme weight gain – Carrying extra weight strains the nose.
  • Manage illnesses – Control conditions like rosacea and allergies.
  • Protect your nose from injury – Prevent trauma that could bend the nose.

Cosmetic solutions for nose enlargement

If you remain bothered by the appearance of a larger, widening nose, talk to your doctor or a cosmetic surgeon about possible solutions. Nonsurgical options may include:

  • Nose filler injections to straighten, smooth, or lift areas of the nose
  • Laser or chemical peels to improve nasal skin tone and texture
  • Botox injections to relax muscles around the nose

For more dramatic improvements in nose size and shape, rhinoplasty (nose surgery) can be performed. During rhinoplasty, the structure of the nose cartilage and bone can be modified to:

  • Remove a dorsal hump
  • Narrow wide nostrils
  • Refine a bulbous tip
  • Realign a crooked or hooked nose
  • Shrink enlarged nostrils
  • Restore a smoother nose profile

The optimal types of rhinoplasty techniques and incisions would depend on your specific goals and anatomical needs. Computer imaging is generally used to help visualize potential outcomes and guide surgical planning.


As you age past 30, it’s normal for slight growth and drooping of nose cartilage to make your nose appear somewhat larger. A bulbous nose tip also often develops. While you can take steps to protect your nose, this enlargement is a natural part of facial aging. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about sudden or dramatic nose changes. And consider consulting with a cosmetic surgeon if you’re interested in improving the size, shape, or proportions of your nose.