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Compression Bras
Style, Adjustment & Support


Bra types are Compression Bras (recovery), Comfort Bras (treatment), Fashion Bras (everyday, work and special occasions), Sports Bras (activity) and Lymphoedema Bras (treatment and management).

This section describes Compression Bra anatomy. See other sections for other bra types.


Cleavage   The extent of upper breast enclosure. A higher cleavage can hold the shape of the after-surgery breast, stabilise expanders and implants and avoid the top of the cup sitting across the reconstructed breast.

Underarm Band   The extent of underarm coverage. A wider underarm band can improve wear comfort by distributing pressure more evenly, supporting the side of the breast and reducing the risk of the top edge of the band sitting on breast and/or underarm incisions.

Back Band   The extent of back and shoulder coverage. A wider back band can improve support and wear comfort and avoid the top of the band sitting across the area of back surgery.

Shoulder Strap Width   The width of the strap over the shoulder. A wider strap can improve wear comfort and support by distributing the weight of the breasts across the shoulder.


Material   A mix of synthetic yarns is typically needed to provide compression. Higher cotton content fabrics typically need a reasonable percentage of synthetic yarn.

Labels   Printed on the inside or a cloth label sewn on the outside to avoid skin marking and/or irritation.

Seams   Raised profile sewn seams to the outside to avoid skin marking and irritation. Heat glued flat seams can be on the inside or outside.

Cup   Usually a heat moulded soft elasticised material that shapes itself to the breast.

Band   Elasticised material that wraps around the chest, underarm and back to stabilise the bra, support breast weight and provide compression to aid swelling reduction. Fastening Front clips, front zip or front zip and rear clips. Adjustment The number of clip adjustment positions varies. For some bras, extenders can be added for more adjustment. Zips do not allow adjustment and if not underlain with at least a starter clip can be difficult to use.

Straps   Support breast weight by lifting the breast up into the cup. Padding over the shoulder can improve comfort. Fastening Clip or Velcro opening for easier hospital fitting. Adjustment Extent varies. Increased adjustment allows for different torso lengths and better breast support as swelling reduces. For some bras, extenders can be added for more adjustment.


Compression   The capacity of the garment to provide firm and even support and pressure (when sized to the chart). When tested, compression is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury (mmHg)’. Generic terms such as ‘medical grade’ do not quantify performance. Research suggests compression performance reduces with wear.

Moisture   The capacity of the material to absorb sweat and then release it to the atmosphere. Test outcomes typically show ‘high to low’ or similar rating. Generic terms such as ‘breathable’ do not quantify performance. Research suggests synthetic elasticised materials like those used in compression garments may have similar moisture performances.

Anti-Bacterial   Material resistance to the transmission of skin borne bacteria and fungi, wound discharge, mould growth and the like that can be embedded in the close-fitting material. Generic terms such as ‘active resistance’ does not quantify performance. Research suggests personal hygiene, garment care and single person wear may be more important.

Free from Harmful Chemicals (Latex)   When the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Logo is shown on the garment label it indicates that the ‘finished garment’ has been tested and given an OEKO-TEX Certificate. Generic terms such as ‘OEKO-TEX materials’ do not verify ‘chemical free’ status.

Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)   Medical use garments registered with the Therapeutic Good Administration of Australia.

Wash & Wear Performance Loss Repeated wash and stretch cycles can be used to test for compression loss after wearing and washing. Few manufacturers provide information, making it difficult to compare performance.

Links & Information

STUDIO RANGE Products   Go to Compression Bras, click on a product to see ‘Style’ and ‘Look & Feel’ information, then click on the ‘Fitter’s Notes’ tab for more product information

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A corsetiere was a specialist in making and fitting what today are called lingerie and compression garments.

Their 'art' was founded on knowledge, experience, informed questioning and observation, and brought to life in the fitting room.

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