Superficial fascia is a general coating of the body beneath the skin, made up of loose areolar tissue with varying amounts of fat. It is the layer that primarily determines the shape of the body. In addition to its subcutaneous presence, the supreficial fascia surrounds organs , glands and neurovascular bundles. It is also found at many other locations where it fills otherwise unoccupied space.
Distribution of Fat in Superficial Fascia:
- Fat is abundant in the gluteal region (buttocks), lumbar region (flanks), front of the thighs, anterior abdominal wall below the umbilicus, mammary gland, postdeltoid region, and the cervicothoracic region.
- In females, fat is more abundant and is more evenly distributed than in males.
- Fat is absent from the eyelids, external ear, penis, and scrotum.
- The subcutaneous layer of fat is called the panniculus adiposus.
- In females fat is in the superficial fascia of the lower abdomen, upper thigh, whereas in males it is inside the abdominal cavity.
- In general, in women fat forms a thicker and more even layer than in men.
- Fat (adipose tissue) fills the hollow spaces like axilla and orbits.
- Fat present around the kidneys in abdomen supports the organs.
Types of fats:
There are two types of fat; i.e. yellow and brown fat. Most of the body fat is yellow, only in hibernating animals it is brown. The cells of brown fat are smaller with several small droplets, and multiple mitochondria.
Fat cells are specialized cells and the size of fat cells increases during accumulation of fat, rather than the number of cells. Any attempt to reduce excessive fat (obesity) must be slow and steady and not drastic, as the latter may cause harm to the body.
Important Features of Superficial Fascia:
- Superficial fascia is most distinct in the lower part of the anterior abdominal wall, perineum, and the limbs.
- It is very thin on the dorsal aspect of the hands and feet, sides of the neck, face, and around the anus.
- It is very dense in the scalp, palms, and soles.
- Superficial fascia shows stratification (into two layers) in the lower part of anterior abdominal wall, perineum, and uppermost parts of thighs.
- It contains:
(a) Subcutaneous muscles in the face, neck and scrotum
(b) Mammary gland
(c) Deeply situated sweat glands
(d) Localized groups of lymph nodes
(e) Cutaneous nerves and vessels.
Functions of Superficial Fascia:
- Superficial fascia facilitates movements of the skin.
- It serves as a soft medium for the passage of nerves and vessels to the skin.
- It conserves body heat because by nature, fat is a bad conductor of heat.