Have you ever wondered what’s inside your breasts? According to statistics, a lot of women are not fully aware of the different structures and tissues that make up their breasts. This information is essential, especially for those who are considering having breast implants or other breast-related surgeries. Understanding basic breast anatomy will assist you in visualising the parts that your surgeon is referring to. Having an overview in these areas will help you communicate better about your treatment choices. Therefore, if you want to make the most out of your surgery, we should discuss the important facts you should know.
What Are Breasts?
We often refer to the region in front of our chest as the breast. In medical terms, this body part is called mammary glands. Each breast contains tissues that cover our chest muscles. In women, the mammary glands mostly consist of special tissues responsible for producing milk. Meanwhile, the remaining parts are fatty deposits.
In the human body, breast tissues begin to develop during puberty. Unlike most primates, it only expands during lactation or milk production.
The Anatomy of the Breast
Our breasts are composed of different fatty, glandular, and fibrous tissues.
Our mammary glands consist of a network of lobes, lobules, and milk ducts, all glandular structures necessary to produce milk.
The lobes of a healthy female breast come in at least twelve sections. Each lobe branches out into tiny lobules, which is a main source of milk in women. These lobules drain into a network of ducts where it connects with milk delivery routes to the nipple. Glandular tissues are sensitive as these structures are where cancers usually start to develop.
The female breast mainly comprises adipose tissue, which is a collection of fat deposits. This connective tissue runs from the collarbones down to the armpits and then across the chest’s midsection. These fatty deposits are responsible for filling the spaces between the ducts and glandular tissue. It is also largely responsible for determining the size of your breasts to a significant extent.
As a woman gets older, the breast tissue tends to develop more fats. This change starts to happen once she begins to hit menopause.
Fibrous tissues are also known as connective tissues. These are the supportive tissues that make up the scar tissue and ligaments.
Other Supportive Parts
The ligaments run from the skin across the chest wall to support the breast tissues. It keeps them in place thanks to their flexible connective bands.
Muscles also have a significant role in the mammary gland. The pectoral muscle supports both breasts by lying against the chest wall below them.
Lymph Nodes and Blood Vessels
The breast has lymphatic veins and blood vessels. These veins, which are part of the lymphatic system, carry lymph, a fluid that aids your body’s immune system in fighting illness. Lymphatic fluid in your breasts will flow to lymph nodes in the underarm and beneath the sternum. This area is also where oxygen and other nutrients travel.
You can find a darker patch of skin surrounding your nipple. This part is called the areola. It contains tiny and specialised sweat glands known as Montgomery’s tubercles. These glands are responsible for secreting fluid that lubricates the nipples during nursing.
What Happens During Breast Tissue Development?
During the fourth week of foetal life, human breast tissues will begin to develop. These tissues form across two milk channels, which you can locate from the armpit and stretch to the groin area. On rare occasions, an ancillary or additional breast can grow along this line. Moreover, an extra nipple may also emerge on the skin surface.
Do Breasts Change During Pregnancy?
Estrogen, the major female hormone, stimulates the breasts to increase size during pregnancy. This enlargement is necessary to make space for milk storage. While in maternity, the size progression is somewhat more consistent than what you experience in adolescence. All women have roughly the same number of tissues capable of generating milk. Therefore, a woman with a smaller breast size should not worry as she can also produce the same quantity of milk as a woman with larger breasts.
Aside from milk production, the only permanent change during pregnancy is the size and colour of the areolas. A lot of expecting mothers experience different levels of darkening and enlargement in the area.
How Do Breasts Differ in Male and Female?
Aside from females, males also have breasts. The male breast has a virtually identical structure to that of the female mammary gland. On the exterior, males have nipples and areolae too.
However, the only exception is that the male breast tissues do not develop milk ducts and do not have specialised lobules for milk production. Therefore, the male breast has no physiological ability for lactation or enlargement. Additionally, males have a large amount of testosterone which also prevents breasts from growing throughout adolescence.
Cases of breast enlargement in males are not normal. This condition is more commonly known as gynecomastia.
How Does Human Breast Differ from Other Mammals?
In other primates, such as apes, breasts are only capable of developing when lactation is necessary. Their breasts will flatten after their offspring finishes weaning. On the other hand, human breasts grow in adolescence and remain engorged for the rest of a woman’s life.
How Does Breast Anatomy Affect Health?
In recent times, most women find breast health to be concerning. Breast cancer is a reasonably prevalent malignancy that affects one out of every eight women at some time in their lives. Although, reports show that benign breast diseases are far more common. In reality, the majority of lumps and tumours in the breasts are not cancerous. Males can also get breast cancer, but it only accounts for a small fraction of the breast cancer cases.
Fibrocystic and cyst changes are frequent among benign breast diseases. Breast tissue infections can sometimes develop, especially while nursing. According to research, young women are more likely to acquire a benign tumour known as fibroadenoma. Mastitis is the medical word for breast irritation.
What is a Mammogram?
Mammography is a diagnostic procedure that utilises low-dose x-rays to show a clearer view of your breast’s interiors. The results help detect lumps, abnormal formations, or unfamiliar masses that may or may not be malignant. Typically, mammograms are available in two terms,
- Screening mammography. This test is common for women who are not experiencing any cancer symptoms but want to check for any abnormalities.
- Diagnostic mammography. A doctor will request this type of mammogram if they happen to find visible signs of concern, such as an unusual nipple discharge or lumps.
In addition to mammography, doctors also request ultrasonography and MRI to further examine changes in the breast in more detail.
What Are Dense Breasts?
Depending on your genetics, women can develop breasts that have more fibrous and glandular tissue and less fatty tissue. This type of breast is known as dense. On mammography, dense breast tissue and tumours appear white, making it more challenging to detect possible breast cancer. Statistically, dense breasts affect up to fifty percent of women with an age range of forty and seventy-four.
The condition has nothing to do with the size, shape, or feel of the breasts. However, breast cancer is somewhat more likely in women who have dense breasts.
How Do I Keep My Breasts Healthy?
Because breast cancer is a major concern, it is best to talk to your doctor about when and how frequently you should have mammograms—risk factors, such as a family history of illness, influence treatment recommendations.
It is also important to study breast self-examinations. Doing so can help you get more comfortable with how your breasts appear and feel, allowing you to easily spot changes or possible issues present.
When Should I Get Checked?
If you detect a change in the way your breasts appear or feel, it is best to contact your healthcare practitioner as soon as possible. Below are the most common symptoms that you should be on the lookout for:
- A lump that is not previously present
- Nipple discharge even if not pregnant
- Breast tenderness, sensitivity, and discomfort
- Changes in your breast appearance, skin, and feel
- A sudden nipple inversion, or a nipple that is not normally inward
- Presence of rash around the breast area
A Word of Advice
Breasts play an amazing role in human anatomy. Especially for women, they may both act as a nutritional source for nursing and can also work as an erogenous zone. However, the breast contains a variety of tissues, each having the potential to become cancerous. Therefore, regular mammograms and breast screenings are necessary. These can aid in the early detection of cancer and start treatment when it is most curable.
Find a Surgeon for Natural-Looking Breasts
Having a breast implant is more than just improving your appearance. Here at Refine Cosmetic Clinic, we make sure to work together with our patients in every possible way. It is our mission to prepare our patients and provide the necessary information before their operation. To arrange a free consultation at our clinic, don’t hesitate to contact us at (02) 8880 9053 now.