How do you feel when you have fat under your arms? Would you be comfortable wearing a strapless or sleeveless dress?
The excess fat under the arms commonly known as armpit fat, underarm bulge, armpit lump or bulge, or armpit fat hang is unsightly and an eyesore.
People of all ages, sizes, and weights can have extra fat around the chest and armpit. Sometimes tight clothing can push up the skin of the chest and give an appearance of armpit fat.
What Causes Armpit Fat?
It is completely normal to have armpit fat. It can occur in people of any gender but is more common in women than in men.
At times tops and bras can be tight causing the skin of the breast and armpit to fall out.
Apart from clothing, there are few other common causes of armpit fat, which include the following.
Body fat distribution depends largely on heredity and genetic factors. A study found there are numerous genetic factors that determine where the fat is stored in the body.(1) It also concluded that genetics played a role in fat distribution more in females than in men.
People with relatives having armpit fat would be more likely to have it.
Those with excess weight may have fat deposition in or under the armpits. It also depends on genetics where the extra fat in the body gets stored.
In someone who is overweight, the subcutaneous fat may get deposited in the underarm area.
Breast tissue is sensitive to changes in hormones as well as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
Alteration in estrogen and progesterone production can cause swelling of the breast tissue. During pregnancy, the breast enlarges due to the production of prolactin and they are ready to produce milk.
These changes in hormones can increase the look of excess skin or fat in the area between the breast and underarm.
- Axillary Breast Tissue
Excess of breast tissue can also be a reason for armpit fat. It is also sometimes known as axillary or accessory breast.
Axillary breast is the development of breast tissue outside the normal breast area, more likely in the armpit or axilla. It is not a common condition. Data indicates that this condition occurs 2-6 percent in women and 1-3 percent in men.(4)
Axillary breast tissue responds to hormonal fluctuation. As the level of estrogen and progesterone change, the armpit fat looks thicker and lumpier i.e. during pregnancy and right before menstruation.
- Lymphedema (Swollen Lymph Nodes)
Lymph nodes are present all around the body. Lymphedema is a condition in which the glands in the armpit (the axillary lymph nodes) swell up.
Lymph nodes can swell up due to infection and due to arm and hand injury. Breast cancer and lymphoma are the other causes of swollen lymph nodes.
Poor posture cannot be a cause of armpit fat but can make it more apparent.
Try and stand straight to reduce the look of extra armpit skin.
Ways to Reduce Armpit Fat
There are a few ways in which the appearance of armpit fat can be reduced.
- Lose Weight: This can help in reducing the armpit fat as well as the fat stored throughout the body.
- Proper Fitted Garments: Wearing properly fitting garments can reduce the appearance of armpit fat. Tight garments push the skin and fat from around the sides of the breast upward.
- Build Muscle Mass in the Chest and Upper Arms: This can help tighten the area and reduce the appearance of armpit fat.
- Surgical Removal: Axillary breast tissue affects the quality of life. Liposuction is recommended to remove it. Liposuction is a common plastic surgery procedure in which soft fatty tissue is removed from the targeted areas of the body.
Armpit fat is not typically a cause of concern. If you notice a change in the armpit or swelling and have limited or reduced mobility, seek medical attention.