The term "dimpled breast" refers to a puckering, or dimpling, of the skin overlying the breast. This has been referred to as "peau d'orange" skin, after the French term literally meaning skin of an orange. Dimpled breast skin is sometimes caused by breast cancers, especially the type of breast cancer known as inflammatory breast cancer. In this case, there is usually associated swelling, warmth, and redness of the breast. Dimpled or peau d'orange skin can also occur due to other causes. It is commonly seen with cellulite, but this is not common on the breast. It can also occur due to lymphedema, or the buildup of lymphatic fluid in tissues. This can occur when there is blockage of the lymphatic drainage system, such as the lymph nodes of the armpit (axilla) in the case of the breast. Infections are another cause of fluid retention that can lead to breast dimpling. Fat necrosis is the death of fat tissue, which sometimes accompanies breast cancer or postsurgical sites. Fat necrosis is another cause of dimpled skin of the breast.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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