Question. Do you know what acts as an insulator to help regulate body temperature?
And what pads your body, working as a shock absorber, protecting it from injury?
Or what important tissue gives your skin structural support?
Well, it’s a fascinating part of your skin known as the subcutaneous fat layer.
One that is mostly made up of fat cells, connective tissue, and an elastic protein that helps your tissues return to their normal shape after stretching.
What is the subcutaneous layer?
The actual terminology originates from the words subcutaneous in Latin and hypoderm in Greek, both of which mean “beneath the skin.”
We can liken the layers of your skin to an outfit: The epidermis is the sweater the outer layer, next is the dermis the middle layer which is the blouse, and then there is the subcutaneous layer the deepest layer which is the vest.
So let’s continue on this journey further and explore the subcutaneous layer, the deepest layer that rests just above the deep fascia.
The thickness of this layer depends on the area of our body it is in, and other factors. For instance, the tissue is particularly thick around your breasts, buttocks, abdomen, cheeks, thighs, palms and soles of your feet; and it is most fragile on your eyelids, lips and around your nose.
The important functions
- fat cells serve as an energy reserve
- it adheres your skin to the tissues underneath it
- it gives the skin it’s internal cushioning and encases your organs
- it draws nutrients and oxygen from your bloodstream, to feed the whole of your skin
- it’s a heat insulator, keeping your body warm and stabilising the body temperature
- it is abundant in breasts, hips, thighs and abdomen
The role of the subcutaneous fat layer
Your Subcutaneous fat layer is a vital centre of activity; it has a direct effect on your complexion, and how your skin looks and feels; it provides energy, storage and support for what lies below, helping to give the dermis structure.
In fact, technically it’s not really a skin, it is a layer of fat and connective tissue that lies between your skin and muscles; here the subcutaneous cells are tightly woven together, they’re rich in blood and lymphatic vessels, and contain interspersed bundles of nerves and fibres.
The cells in the subcutaneous fat layer, are continually sending and receiving messages, they deliver nourishment, transport and clean up crews for cuts and infections, whilst the entire time producing plump even contours, that we associate with youth and healthy skin.
As we age our subcutaneous tissue does start to disintegrate; it becomes less able to protect the body’s delicate bones and organs, which is why we are more prone to getting injured and feeling the cold.
So as we can see, the subcutaneous tissue is the layer between the dermis and the fascia, and it is largely composed of fat cells.
This fatty tissue acts to preserve neutral fat, cushioning it against external physical pressure, helping to retain moisture and generate heat.
See a little fat layer around your stomach is not such a bad thing, so please don’t panic, because it is essential for good health.