(also known as the suspensory ligaments of Cooper
and the fibrocollegenous septa
) are connective tissue
in the breast
that helps maintain structural integrity. The ligaments are firmly attached to the dermis of the skin and anchor the breast to the subcutaneous tissue overlying the retromammary space
. As with all ligaments, over time they may lose strength and tension in later years. Their role in the normal evolution of the aging breast is considered controversial.
It should not be confused with the pectineal ligament (sometimes called the inguinal ligament of Cooper) which shares the same eponym.
The suspensory ligaments of Cooper play an important role in the change in appearance of the breast that often accompanies the development of inflammatory carcinoma
of the breast in which blockage of the local lymphatic ducts causes swelling of the breast. Because the skin remains tethered by the suspensory ligaments of Cooper, it takes on a dimpled appearance reminiscent of the peel of an orange (peau d'orange
In popular culture they are often blamed for the effects of aging. Samuel Shem
(author of the "House of God
") called them "Cooper's Droopers", referring to a lack of tension.