Hi!

After having a discussion with my girlfriend about it, I decided I should post a question and ask a biologist heh.

So, the nerve endings in human skin. I know that certain organs (genitals for example) contain more nerve endings in the skin than other areas of the body, but what I am curious about is if *any* specific part of skin. Say, if I weighed 80kg, and then proceeded to gain 200 kg, would say a 10cmx10cm area of skin on my stomach contain the same amount of nerve endings, even though the skin has been stretched alot?

I know the all skin doesn't shrink when weight is lost, but would this principle work in the opposite way? If someone of a higher weight lost weight, would the nerve endings in certain areas therefore become more "abundant" and make the skin more sensitive?

My original thought was that someone of a higher weight would feel less pain/sensation due to a higher surface area for the nerve endings to cover. I'd assume that in any case, the person couldn't differentiate the levels of pain or sensation, but I'm more curious about a scientific interpretation and not the "opinion" of the person.

Apologies for the strange question heh. Thanks!

Great question which I have shared with the academics in the pain/sensation grouping here at the University of Bristol. We had a long debate about whether the amount of growth factors originating from the skin would increase in obesity thus maintaining the same density of nerve endings. This is actually a very complicated area and relates to the amount of branching of nerve terminals in the skin which is regulated separately. Then someone asked wouldn't obesity make the person more likely to develop diabetes (which is true) and that in turn would reduce the density of nerve endings.

At that point it was late and we all agreed we didn't know the answer but it would make an excellent subject for a short study to see if two point discrimination is altered in obese people with or without diabetes.

So in summary, sorry we don't know the answer but it has stimulated our interest and might even lead on to a new piece of research!