Arm Pit Fat – What is It & Why?
The dreaded arm pit fat, is known by many “pet names” such as underarm bubble, pit cleavage, armpit bulge, armpit hang, and corset overflow. Our society seems unforgiving about arm pit fat. If arm pit fat is something you have to deal with, take comfort in knowing that arm pit fat is a lot like cellulite – nearly everyone has it. Even celebrities, models and athletes. Recently, one of the top trending stories was how Harpers Bazaar erased model Kate Upton’s underarm. The photoshop blunder caused intense rage online, especially since the photo was accompanied by an article detailing her diet and fitness routine.
But what causes arm pit fat? Let’s start with some basic human anatomy. The underarm is called the axila. The axila contains muscles, blood vessels, lymph nodes and sweat glands. The axillary fold (where the arm bends over the side of the chest) is the area where we see the “bra bulge” phenomenom. This trouble spot’s visibility increases with age, due to loss of elasticity, and with weight gain, due to fat deposits. “Arm pit fat” is really a combination of skin, fat, muscle and in many cases, breast tissue. It’s annoying and unattractive and it’s almost exclusively a female issue.
Obviously, arm pit fat is caused by, among other causes, excess and unwanted fat in the bra/underarm area. Some suggest that arm pit fat may be caused by poorly fitted bras. These people propose that if women wore properly fitted bras, the breast tissue would not peek out over the bra. We agree that a properly fitted bra minimizes the appearance of arm pit fat but we disagree that a bra, alone, cures or causes the condition. We know, however, that large breasts can contribute to fat deposits in the surrounding areas of the body and therefore contribute to arm pit fat. Breast tissue may also push upwards towards the arm pits causing a noticeable fat crease.
In women, arm pit fat often encompasses tissue called the axillary tail of Spence. The tail of Spence runs from the outside edge of the breast up towards the axila. It is breast tissue that forms during puberty and usually turns to fat somewhere in our 20’s. Moreover, some women (and a few men) have a medical condition called polymastia. Polymastia causes the development of breast tissue in other areas of the body and can be in the arm pits (axila).
If your mom or grandmother had arm pit fat, chances are that you have or will have arm pit fat. If you have arm pit fat and are not overweight, you should probably blame your genes. Heredity also dictates where you carry fat. If you have large breasts, you already carry fat high in the torso so your chances of developing arm pit fat are high. And most of large breast tissue is fat. Losing weight will not likely “cure” your condition but may provide some short term improvement.
Estrogen dominance, in both males and females, leads to increased fat deposits in the chest and the arm pits. Men can develop “man boobs” (gynecomastia). Women accumulate unwanted fat in their breasts and arm pits. Estrogen dominance tends to affect women starting in their 30’s or 40’s as their hormones start fluctuating during peri-menopause. Most men are affected in their 40’s as testosterone levels begin to decline.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy often cause increase in breast size (fat & other tissue) and some fat deposits to the arm pit area. These changes may not reverse after pregnancy. Changes in your lifestyle (diet & fitness) may provide some improvement but medical intervention may be necessary.
Post Pregnancy & Post Weight Loss
Fat accumulated, whether due to pregnancy or not, may be lost in part. Most often, it will not all be lost. Moreover, the skin that has been stretched due to weight gain may have been damaged, resulting in a loss of elasticity. The appearance of arm pit fat remains. Intervention with medical treatments are necessary to combat the remaining arm pit fat and loose skin.
The Aging Process
Our muscle mass decreases and our metabolism slows as we get older. Maintaining our weight becomes increasingly difficult and fat may be deposited in our arm pit area. We also produce less collagen and elastin which causes the skin to be loose. While we may not have a problem with arm pit fat when we are younger we may as we get older. Medical intervention is necessary to combat arm pit fat caused by aging.
Weight Gain or Being Overweight
Weight gain or being overweight may cause arm pit fat. Any excess food/calories you consume that your body does not utilize as energy converts to fat deposits in your body. Heredity plays a role in where your body deposits the fat. Losing weight may or may not take care of your concern with arm pit fat. Spot reduction is not possible with diet alone.
Next: Look for our Part 3B. We’ll tell you ways to improve the appearance of arm pit fat.