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The hypodermis is often referred to as the subcutaneous tissue, superficial fascia and hypoderm. Its role in the body is crucial, with the tissue acting as an insulator and conserves body heat. It also protects the organs in the body from injury by behaving as a shock absorber.
The subcutaneous tissue works in conjunction with two other layers of skin called the epidermis and dermis. Of the three, the hypodermis is the deepest layer of skin. All three skin layers are tissues composed of various cells.
Fat in the body is stored as an energy reserve in the subcutaneous tissue. The fats contained in the tissue are placed back into the body’s bloodstream during intense effort. The fats are also needed if the body is lacking food. In some mammals, such as whales or bears, the tissue stores food. This layer of skin is critical to the animal’s survival during prolonged stages of hibernation or travel.
There are certain places anatomically where the hypodermis is more obvious. Although subcutaneous tissue is distributed over the whole body, it typically accumulates in the shoulders and abdomen in men. In women, the tissue accumulates around the buttocks, hips, and thighs. The hypodermis is composed of connective tissue and fat. It mostly contains hair follicle roots, blood vessels, and nerves, as well as adipose tissue, which is the tissue commonly associated with obesity or being overweight.
There are certain parts of the body where the tissue is missing. For example, thin areas of skin do not have hypodermis layers. Areas without the tissue include the eyelids, genitals, and nipples.
As the body ages, this tissue begins to collapse. This can result in a loss of elasticity in the skin, which can cause wrinkles, bags and folds. However, there are treatments to prevent the aging of the tissue. For example, a cosmetic treatment called Botox® is injected into the muscles underneath the tissue.
The term hypodermis can also be used in relation to plants. In botany, the term is used to describe the cells that cover the stem, leaf, flower, fruit, root, and seed parts of the plant. This layer serves as a barrier that protects the plant from infection, injury, and dehydration. Although this term can be used in botany, it’s more commonly used to describe a layer of skin on the body of a mammal.