The Subcutaneous Layer

Subcutaneous layer 

The subcutaneous layer, can also be called the hypodermis, is situated below the dermis.  It consists of adipose tissue (fat) and areolar tissue.  The adipose tissue helps to protect the body against injury and acts as an insulating layer against heat loss, helping to keep the body warm.  The areolar tissue contains elastic fibres, making this layer elastic and flexible.  Muscle is situated below the subcutaneous layer and is attached to bone.

Adipose Tissue

This is a loose connective tissue whose specific purpose is to store fat.  Adipose tissue is found under the skin and around organs, it acts as a food reserve.  As it is also a poor conductor of heat it assists in maintaining body temperature by preventing heat loss.

It is thought that massage affects the adipose tissue as it softens the hard fat under the skin and helps to disperse it.

The distribution of the fat layer under the skin varies according to sex, age and lifestyle.  Women tend to have a thicker layer of adipose tissue than men, giving the female form a softer outline.  Following the menopause, women tend to put on weight in the more masculine areas such as the waist and abdomen rather than the hips and thighs.