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Subcutaneous Tissue Layer: Definition & Injections

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  • 0:00 Subcutaneous Tissue…
  • 0:32 Functions
  • 1:05 Subcutaneous Injections
  • 2:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

Learn all about the subcutaneous tissue layer and its purpose for being on the body. We will also review different injections that can be administered through the subcutaneous tissue layer and the best places for those injections.

Subcutaneous Tissue Layer Defined

There are many places on earth that have very cold and sometimes harsh winters. We are somehow able to withstand those conditions. This is largely due to a layer of fat that lies just beneath the top two layers of the skin. The skin is composed of the outer layer or epidermis, the middle layer or dermis and the inner fat layer or subcutaneous tissue layer. The fat contained in the subcutaneous tissue layer is referred to as adipose tissue, tissue composed of fat cells.

Functions

The subcutaneous tissue layer has a few different functions, one of which is to provide insulation to help maintain our body's temperature when we are in cold environments. This is why we don't freeze to death when we walk outside into cold air.

Another purpose for the subcutaneous tissue layer is to anchor the other layers of the skin to the muscles beneath the skin. The subcutaneous tissue layer also functions to protect the muscles and bones whenever we fall or hit our bodies on something. The last function of the subcutaneous tissue layer is to act as a passageway for the blood vessels and nerves from the dermis of the skin into the muscles.

Subcutaneous Injections

Some medications need to get into the bloodstream and take effect quicker, and others should be absorbed more slowly. Medications administered through the subcutaneous tissue layer are ones that are meant to be absorbed slowly by the body.

The subcutaneous tissue layer goes all around the body just under the skin. Even though this is the case, there are some sites that are better for subcutaneous injections than others. The most favorable sites for subcutaneous injections include the abdomen, the back of the upper arms, and the front of the thighs. A small needle is used in order to administer these shots so that the medication doesn't go past the subcutaneous tissue layer into the muscle.

If you have ever been stung by a bee or eaten peanuts and had an allergic reaction that closes your throat, then you may have used an epinephrine pen. These pens provide injections into the subcutaneous tissue layer.

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