Breast binding

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Breast binding is the material used in, or the act of flattening breasts by women and men, by the use of constrictive materials.

Common binding materials include cloth strips, elastic or non-elastic bandage, use of purpose-built undergarments (often using Spandex or other synthetic fiber) or simple layering of shirts, from tight to loose. Ace bandages, while popular as inexpensive binding material, are not suited for long term use due to excessive constriction of the chest.


Some of the reasons to bind include:

  • As a way to reduce movement after an injury or surgery, to help speed recovery
  • As part of social transition for trans men
  • To hide breasts or breast development
  • For aesthetic reasons

Men may also find cause to bind if afflicted with gynecomastia as a means to control appearance in place of surgery or during the wait before surgery. In a related vein, transsexual and intersex people who want to "pass" for male would commonly bind. Trans men often bind before having top surgery to help appear male. Trans women may bind to have continued acceptance as male during transition, for example, at work, where co-workers may be unaware of the transition. Several famous women including Joan of Arc may have used binding to help pass as male in their male-dominated societies, and in the case of Joan of Arc, to be accepted as a soldier.

Some adolescent girls bind their breasts as they enter puberty. This is done usually for reasons of modesty (they do not want others to see them), embarrassment (they do not want others to know they have started developing), or desire to be as they previously were (they do not want to have breasts yet). This has potential risks, as the developing tissue may conform to the restricted shape, resulting in permanent deformity. Breast binding in adolescent girls may be a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder.[1]

Binding methods

Whatever the binder material, it is essential that it allow for both the skin to aerate as well as the user to breath. Binders should not be worn while sleeping due to the effect on breathing which may lead to phenomena (fluid buildup in the lungs).

Sports Bra

This consists of one or more tight fitting sports bras covered by one or more layers of shirts.

Ace bandage

This method is generally not recommended. While inexpensive, ace bandages don't allow for breathing and if the makeshift binder isn't wide enough, cut into the skin or roll down. It is combined with layered shirts for a better effect.

Compression garment

This is the traditional binder, usually in undershirt like form. These are often used by men with gynecomastia using specially made vests which while may by better at flatting, cost more then those made for trans men.

External links


  1. Horowitz K, Gorfinkle K, Lewis O, Phillips KA (December 2002). "Body dysmorphic disorder in an adolescent girl". J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 41 (12): 1503–9. doi:10.1097/00004583-200212000-00023. PMID 12447038.


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