Morphometry of the adult human earlobe: a study of 547 subjects and clinical application

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 Jun;111(7):2398-402; discussion 2403-4. doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000060995.99380.DE.


The purpose of this study was to define the factors that influence earlobe length and to establish a standard for adult earlobe length by sex and age. The study sample consisted of 547 adult subjects older than 20 years of age. A randomized, prospective design was used. Patients with malignancies, previous surgery or trauma to the earlobe, or congenital earlobe anomalies were excluded. The following variables were studied: sex; age; ethnic origin; skin complexion; height, weight, and body mass index; and piercing. Pearson's correlation, analysis of variance, t test, and multiple regression analysis were used for the statistical analysis. There were 383 women (70 percent) and 164 men (30 percent) aged 20 to 80 years. The average length of the left earlobe was 1.97 cm (SD, 0.42 cm), and that of the right earlobe, 2.01 cm (SD, 0.42 cm) (p < 0.0001). A post hoc test revealed a statistically significant difference among the three age groups (20 to 40 years, 40 to 60 years, and >60 years) in both men and women. Pendulous earlobes were significantly longer and less symmetrical than nonpendulous ones by t test. In men, nonpierced left earlobes were longer than pierced lobes; in women, there was no significant difference between pierced and nonpierced ears. Pearson's correlation tests for weight, height, and body mass index showed that only weight had a significant effect on earlobe length, and only in women. Analysis of variance for ethnic origin and skin color revealed a longer left earlobe in Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews compared with Ethiopian, Asian, and American Jews and Arabs and a short earlobe in blacks compared with dark and fair-skinned people. On multiple regression analysis, sex and age were the only factors that contributed to earlobe length. A table of average earlobe length by age was formulated on the basis of the authors' findings. These data, together with the knowledge that earlobe length changes little in women over 40, that earlobes are not symmetrical, and that right and left nonpendulous earlobes are symmetrical in individual patients and shorter than pendulous earlobes, can assist the plastic surgeon in deciding on the proper time for loboplasty. The preferable technique is creating a nonpendulous earlobe to minimize the chances of further elongation with time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anthropometry
  • Ear, External / abnormalities
  • Ear, External / anatomy & histology*
  • Ear, External / surgery
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis