Many trans men bind their breasts to create a flatter, more masculine appearance. This can be done in a variety of ways. Some use bandages, elastic or other materials wrapped around and pinned to hold it in place. Compression vests from companies such as www.f2mbinders.com are a popular solution, as are chest binders from www.t-kingdom.com and Underworks.
Some trans men just wear sports bras as they can flatten the chest somewhat but still support the breasts. If you're interested in binding, it's worth experimenting with different methods to find solutions that you find comfortable, wearable and practical. The results you get will depend on the method you use and the size of your chest. Chests which are a D-cup and below tend to flatten down successfully with binding. Sizes above this can be harder to flatten, but binding in combination with loose or layered clothing can disguise a larger chest.
Will my chest become flatter overtime?
If you're taking testosterone you may find that it causes the chest to get slightly easier to bind.
Likewise frequent binding itself will, over time, cause the flesh of the chest to become less firm, making it easier to bind. The difference isn’t huge but can make binding more comfortable.
Does binding have any health risks?
Binding can indeed cause damage to the chest - so it's not advisable to wear a binder 24-hours-a-day, nor to bind so tightly that it's painful. Binding too tightly may cause breathing problems, so make sure you can expand your ribcage comfortably.
Binding for long periods without a break, or binding very tightly, can cause skin rashes - especially in summer when you'll probably get sweaty.
Bear in mind that binding can cause changes to the breast tissue - but it's unknown whether there are any long-term risks.
While binding, even if you're taking testosterone, you're still at risk of breast cancer and are advised to do monthly checks for lumps.
Does top surgery eliminate the risk of breast cancer?
If you've had surgery there's still a small risk of breast cancer – two per cent of all breast cancer cases are in men. We know it can be difficult for trans men to interact with some parts of their bodies, such as the chest, but it's still important to become familiar with it so you can recognise any changes.
NHS Choices advises checking your breasts regularly and looking for any of the following:
- Changes in the outline or shape of the breast, especially those caused by arm movements or by lifting the breast.
- Changes in the look or feel of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling.
- Discomfort or pain in one breast that is unusual, particularly if it's new and persistent.
- Any new lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or armpit which differs from the same part of the other breast and armpit.
- Nipple discharge that's new for you and not milky.
- Bleeding from the nipple.
- Moist, red areas on the nipple that don't heal easily.
- Any change in nipple position, such as pulled up or pointing differently.
- A rash on or around the nipple.
If you notice any of these changes, see your GP.