Breast Anatomy - Gynecomastia

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What are the anatomical features of the breast?

The mammary gland is made up of lobules, glandular structures that produce milk in females when stimulated to do so. The lobules drain into a system of ducts, connecting channels that transport the milk to the nipple. Between the glandular tissue and ducts, the breast contains fat tissue and connective tissue.

Both males and females have breasts; the structure of the male breast is nearly identical to that of the female breast, except that the male breast tissue lacks the specialized lobules, as there is no physiologic need for milk production by the male breast. Abnormal enlargement of the male breasts is medically known as gynecomastia.

The breast does not contain muscles. Breast tissue is located on top of the muscles of the chest wall. Blood vessels and lymphatic vessels (a system of vessels that drains fluid) are located throughout the breast. The lymphatic vessels in the breast drain to the lymph nodes in the underarm area (axilla) and behind the breast bone (sternum).

In females, milk exits the breast at the nipple, which is surrounded by a darkened area of skin called the areola. The areola contains small, modified sweat glands known as Montgomery's glands. These glands secrete fluid that serves to lubricate the nipple during breastfeeding.

Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Picture of the anatomy of the breast

Return to Breast Anatomy

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