Slide show: Female breast anatomy
Female breast anatomy
The structure of the female breast is complex — including fat, glandular and connective tissue, as well as lobes, lobules, ducts, lymph nodes, blood vessels and ligaments.
Lobules and ducts
Each breast has a number of sections (lobules) that branch out from the nipple. Each lobule holds tiny, hollow sacs (alveoli). The lobules are linked by a network of thin tubes (ducts). If you're breast-feeding, ducts carry milk from the alveoli toward the dark area of skin in the center of the breast (areola). From the areola, the ducts join together into larger ducts ending at the nipple.
Fat, ligaments and connective tissue
Spaces around the lobules and ducts are filled with fat, ligaments and connective tissue. The amount of fat in your breasts largely determines their size. The actual milk-producing structures are nearly the same in all women. Female breast tissue is sensitive to cyclic changes in hormone levels. Most women's breast tissue changes as they age, with more fat relative to the amount of dense tissue.
The breast has no muscle tissue. Muscles lie underneath the breasts, however, separating them from your ribs.
Arteries and capillaries
Oxygen and nutrients travel to breast tissue through the blood in your arteries and capillaries — thin, fragile blood vessels.
Lymph nodes and lymph ducts
The lymphatic system is a network of lymph nodes and lymph ducts that helps fight infection. Lymph nodes — found under the armpit, above the collarbone, behind the breastbone and in other parts of the body — trap harmful substances that might be in the lymphatic system and safely drain them from the body.
Last Updated Nov 10, 2017