I read about subcutaneous and visceral fat and I understand it's the latter that is hard (and therefore cannot really be perceived by a person by touching and feeling around on the skin I assume).

But my question stems from my perception that my belly fat has been very apparently "hardening" over the past few weeks. I don't know if it's the fat actually hardening or some other phenomenon, but I wanted to know if subcutaneous fat ACTUALLY hardens?

I read in some places that perhaps the fat is "settling" and therefore hardening after LOONG periods of no exercise and therefore no circulation. Is there any scientific weight to that theory or is it just voodoo myth like most things on the internet?

If that's a myth then what is the explanation for my belly hardening recently?

Thanks for the info.

  • It would be good if you could provide some sources about the hardening effect of fat.
    – Baarn
    Feb 5 '13 at 9:59
  • As for the links you asked about - here's one. The others have been harder to find. forum.bodybuilding.com/… Feb 6 '13 at 18:09

I think you are confusing some things here. From Wikipedia:

In humans, adipose tissue is located beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), around internal organs (visceral fat), in bone marrow (yellow bone marrow) and in breast tissue.

How your body stores fat is mostly defined by your genetics.

I have never heard of any of the claims you are making in your question and they don't seem to be the explanation for your issue. It might be best to see a medical professional to talk about that specific problem.

  • Thanks, that seems about right. It is easy to get carried away with misinformation. :) Feb 6 '13 at 13:44

Actually I have to disagree with Baarn. There is such a thing as "omentum fat" which is visceral fat located near the stomach. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_omentum. It is not terribly uncommon among men to have larger fat deposits here, which is actually underneath the abdominal muscles, which is why the belly seems harder. A more thorough answer can be found here.

To answer your question about whether subcutaneous fat "hardens", it's probably not true in the way you're thinking but yes it can develop.


OK, I just came from the doctor TODAY where I was examined for the EXACT SAME PROBLEM. I gained a lot of weight from an illness, which I am now losing (down 65 pounds so far!). As I lose weight, the omentum (belly fat that now hangs down) has hung down more, so instead of my belly sticky out, it now sags down. About two months ago, I started noticing a hardened area at the bottom of my belly. It has been growing (the hardened parts), and that was examined at the doctor today.

It is fat that has "settled" or re-distributed to that location, and it IS HARDENED FAT -- everyone else commenting here that it's not, you are all mis-informed, sorry to say.

IMPORTANT: This hardened stomach fat can, according to my doctor, a) get infected, and/or b)develop into necrosis (dead tissue). Both of those conditions are VERY SERIOUS and require surgery to excise the infected/dead tissue.

WHAT TO DO: Massage the hardened area frequently, and not too hard (do not cause an abrasion on yourself!). Use body oil or lotion when massaging.. This moisturizes the skin and allows you to work the hardened area. Definitely go to the doctor and start monitoring it closely. It can turn ugly, but from the sounds of it you have caught it early enough.

If you keep massaging it, and if you are also dropping some weight, you can soften up the tissue enough that it doesn't get infected or necrotic. Then later, when you are nearer to your goal weight, you can get a tummy tuck if the omentum is still a problem.

Hope that helps, and best of luck with it -- I am starting my massaging tonight!!! xox

PS to the person who has discoloration around the hardened belly fat -- Please, please, get to a doctor IMMEDIATELY. Discoloration is a sign that there is a more serious problem.


I have that problem too. It started after a kidney operation. The bottom fat from my belly began hardening. In fact if I begin to rub it it softens again like it becomes moldable. Also my skin in that particular area changed color as it had been burned like a huge beauty mark and some parts like aroing the edges like a rash reddish but it doesn't hurt nor ich. I cannot understand it.


But my question stems from my perception that my belly fat has been very apparently "hardening" over the past few weeks. I don't know if it's the fat actually hardening or some other phenomenon, but I wanted to know if subcutaneous fat ACTUALLY hardens?

I don't know this for absolute sure, but I would be very surprised if there were usual any way for the fat itself to "harden". Body fat is lipocytes packed with triglcyerides. Even those with melting temperatures higher than body temperature will still not be "hard"; consider what beef fat is like even when refrigerated--it's rather soft, and it should be softer still if warmed to body temperature. Same with human abdominal fat.

Perhaps what you are noticing is really "tautness"--the increased abdominal fat you've put on is stretching your skin and underlying tissue tighter, like a drum head, and so it is less pliable when you depress it. Your skin can stretch a lot over time, but if you're recently put in weight quickly, it may not have had time to accommodate and it will seem particularly taut.

(In either case, this strikes me as a solid indicator--pardon the pun--to get serious about losing some of that abdominal fat through diet and exercise.)


You may find this article of interest



I had a similar issue. I never had this before.... and then, in the last month, had a hardened spot in my upper thigh (maybe the length of a medicine bottle) and one in my lower abdomen. I was worried about them and asked about it at my doctor appointment. The doctor told me they were, actually, small pockets of fat that were hardened. He said there was no need to worry (about cancer, tumors, etc), as they were not harmful. But, that they would not go away with exercise, etc (I asked.... because I am a runner and average weight... but not overweight). He said that if they get bigger or become bothersome to me, we could schedule for them to become surgically removed, as that is the only way (Outpatient-type surgery). I really don't know why I"m 47 years old and they suddenly both appear in the last month... and I don't think he really know.... but they did. Ugh. :( But, glad they aren't something more serious, so I guess I'll count my blessings....

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