Anatomy of the Female Breast

The female breasts are the two milk-secreting, glandular organs located on the chest. The breast is attached to the chest wall via the breast envelope and connective tissue, and the Cooper's ligaments. The breast is primarily composed of fat, glands that make breast milk (lobules) and ducts (small tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple). The breast also contains connective tissue and lymph vessels. The nipple and its surrounding disc of pigmented skin are known as the areola complex. The dark area around the nipple is the areola.


Cross-section of a breast and chest, including the ribs and the muscles of the chest wall.

Female Breast Anatomy: Terms to Know

Cooper's ligament: the connective tissue that attaches the breast to the overlying skin.

Pectoralis major: the larger chest muscle.

Pectoralis minor: a smaller chest muscle.

Subcutaneous fat: under-the-skin fat.

Inframammary crease: the fold or crease under the breast where the breast meets the upper abdomen.

Ducts: thin tubes in the breast that carry milk from the breast lobules to the nipple.

Nipple: the bulge of the mammary gland that contains the openings of the milk ducts.

Lobules: the part of the breast where milk is produced. The lobules are gathered into lobes. There may be as many as 20 lobes per breast.

Breast envelope: the skin that surrounds the structure of the breast.

Knowledge is power. Familiarizing yourself with these core terms will help you describe what it is about your breasts that you are seeking to change with your breast enhancement surgery. Being as specific as possible will help your surgeon get a better idea of what you want out of your surgery, and will help assure that you are satisfied with the end result. Your surgeon may also refer to these terms during your breast augmentation consultation.

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    Stephen M. Miller, MD, PC, FACS

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