During human development the bones in our body grow from growth plates at the end of our bones. When we reach our optimal growth, all the growth plates fuse, except for the bones of the head, face, hands and feet.
In patients with acromegaly these unfused bones continue to grow resulting in excessively large and prominent noses, jaws, hands and feet.
This continually growth is caused by the release of excess growth hormone (somatotrophin) due to growth hormone secreting pituitary adenomas.
The changes associated with acromegaly are slow forming but when fully developed the patient takes on specific facial characteristics. Other symptoms of acromegaly include enlarged tongue and lips, kyphosis (humped back), loss of libido, headaches, hyperythyroidism and diabetes.
Patients are treated with somatostatins which inhibit the release of the growth hormone thereby halting further growth. The patient needs to continue this treatment for the rest of their lives in order to prevent the symptoms of acromegaly returning and if treated early enough the patient can escape facial deformation.
Additional medical conditions: