What is the anatomy relevant to breast reconstruction?

Updated: Jul 29, 2021
  • Author: Mark F Deutsch, MD; Chief Editor: James Neal Long, MD, FACS  more...
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Breast shape varies among patients, but knowing and understanding the anatomy of the breast ensures safe surgical planning. The breast is made up of fatty tissue and glandular, milk-producing tissues. The ratio of fatty tissue to glandular tissue varies among individuals. In addition, with the onset of menopause (ie, decrease in estrogen levels), the relative amount of fatty tissue increases as the glandular tissue diminishes.

The base of the breast overlies the pectoralis major muscle between the second and sixth ribs in the nonptotic state. The gland is anchored to the pectoralis major fascia by the suspensory ligaments first described by Astley Cooper in 1840. These ligaments run throughout the breast tissue parenchyma from the deep fascia beneath the breast and attach to the dermis of the skin. Since they are not taut, they allow for the natural motion of the breast.

For more information about the relevant anatomy, see Breast Anatomy and Regions and Planes of the Abdomen.

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