What is Subcutaneous Tissue?

Subcutaneous tissue is a layer of fat that stores energy. It also helps cushion your body, protects bones and muscles from physical damage, and regulates temperature.


It is made of adipose cells (fat cells) and blood vessels. The size of adipose cells depends on your nutrition habits. It also acts as a reserve source of fuel and signals the body with hormones.

Adipose Tissue

Adipose tissue, or body fat, is a connective tissue that is found throughout the body—under the skin (subcutaneous adipose tissue or WAT), around internal organs (visceral adipose tissue or VAT) and in bone marrow (white adipose tissue or SAT). Adipose tissue was once thought of as an inert, inactive fat storage depot but is now recognized as a vital metabolic organ that plays many roles including thermal regulation and energy storage. It also has active endocrine functions and releases hormones that regulate hunger and satiety, metabolism and inflammation. The proper function of adipose tissue is important for whole-body health, and a lack of this tissue leads to obesity and a host of metabolic disorders.

Your body stores unused energy in adipose tissue as triglycerides. At the time of energy demand by your muscles or tissues, adipose tissue releases these lipids into bloodstream to supply them with energy. This process is known as lipolysis. Adipose tissue also provides insulation from extreme temperatures and cushioning around soft organs, bones and blood vessels.

White adipose tissue (WAT) contains fat cells called adipocytes. Each adipocyte contains a single lipid droplet, called triglyceride, that can be stored or used for energy. There are also other cells within WAT such as fibroblasts, white blood cells and nerve cells. The stromal vascular fraction, or SVF cells, secrete various adipokines, which help regulate energy balance, hunger and satiety, metabolic pathways and inflammatory response.

Adipose Cells

Adipose tissue is made up of adipose cells (adipocytes). Each adipocyte contains a giant droplet of stored lipids (fat). The fat in the cell swells as it stores energy and shrinks when adipocytes use that energy.

These adipose cells are part of a system that is tightly controlled by a variety of hormones and nervous signals. It communicates with organs throughout the body to regulate nutrient supply and demand, responding to hunger and satiety signals and regulating glucose metabolism by turning excess blood sugar into fat for storage. It also insulates and cushions the organs and tissues of the body.

Adipocytes also play a key role in immune regulation and local metabolic effects. Inflammatory expansion of adipose tissue is associated with metabolic diseases, and this can be partly mediated by the secretions of adipose tissue-resident immune cells such as adipocyte-derived macrophages and invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells.

While it is common to consider all adipose tissue to have the same functions, in fact, adipose tissues are highly differentiated and vary in function based on their location within the body. For example, expansion of subcutaneous white adipose tissue is associated beneficially with metabolic health, while visceral fat is closely linked to disease. In addition, small depots of adipose tissue exist in the joints and around specific blood vessels and organs such as the kidneys, eyes and heart.

Adipose Injections

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease that reduces the quality of life for many patients and puts a strain on healthcare systems. The good news is that OA symptoms can be reduced and knee function restored with the help of micro-fragmented adipose injections.

Adipose tissue is a powerful healing powerhouse and provides a specialized network of reparative cells (mesenchymal stem cells), vascular support cells called pericytes, and structural fibers known as a collagen matrix. This network is able to change the environment of the injured area, decrease inflammation, improve blood flow, increase strength and provide structure to allow healing.

We use autologous adipose tissue, collected through a minimally invasive procedure that is very similar to liposuction. The adipose tissue is then injected into the damaged knee joint under ultrasound and fluoroscopic guidance. The injection is performed by a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon.

Unlike other treatments that suppress inflammation, our injections use adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells to stimulate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. For best results, you should avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen, as they will counteract the effects of our injections. Patients should also follow instructions for keeping the injection site clean and dry. Regular follow-up appointments are scheduled to monitor your progress. The injections are safe and effective for most people, however, it is important to know that there are risks involved in any medical procedure.

Adipose Growth Factors

The adipose tissue provides a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and secretes multiple growth factors and cytokines with immunomodulatory effects. These properties make adipose MSCs an ideal cell therapy for plastic surgery and regeneration of the skin, joints and cardiovascular tissues.

In addition to their multipotency and ability to differentiate into different types of stromal cells, ADSCs have been shown to promote skin regeneration in vitro and in vivo by stimulating dermal fibroblasts (DF) proliferation and migration as well as promoting the formation of the extracellular matrix proteins collagen and elastin. GDF11 is expected to play a central role in this process as it is known to stimulate DF migration and increase DF protein expression, which is responsible for the proliferation of skin cells.

Furthermore, adipose MSCs secrete several adipokines which are involved in the regulation of WAT development, metabolism and neural function. Among them, FGFs are particularly important as they are able to activate brown fat-like cells and promote the expression of UCP1 and other thermogenic genes.

Aesthetic liposuction is a relatively safe and commonly performed procedure, which allows the harvesting of adipose tissue in large volumes with minimal blood loss. The extracted adipose tissue is then processed using specific protocols to obtain cell-free extracts enriched in growth factors and cytokines. This technique allows to prepare adipose MSCs that are characterized by their high proliferation rate, differentiation multipotency and immunomodulatory activity.