2013-14 Master's dissertation by Els Cassauwers
Supervisors: Nick Gebruers and Steven Truijen, Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, UAntwerp
Selected for Best of PO! 2014
La florajo is a new type of compression bra, which can be worn by women as a preventive measure after breast-conserving treatment. The bra aims to prevent the development of breast oedema. Its multi-layered system makes it possible to apply pressure in a tailor-made way and thus provide the required compression for each patient. This bra will provide added value by combining medical and aesthetic concerns.
Breast oedema is a condition that occurs in the lymphatic system in the breast when fluid can no longer travel through the lymphatic system due to damage. The skin begins to swell, causing localised pain. Breast oedema usually develops after breast-conserving surgery and tends to occur in the spot where the tumour was located. By applying counter-pressure, the breast oedema can be prevented from developing.
The general structure of La Florajo is a basic bra which has one cup made of compression fabric, knitted in 3D so the breast can retain its shape. This cup is designed to exert constant pressure on a breast that has been treated for breast cancer. The bra fastens at the front, which means that women who have just been operated on can open and close it more easily.
La Florajo’s bra strap has three functions. Firstly, it provides additional pressure, which can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the strap. Secondly it is designed to support the breast both from the side as well as from underneath, as the bra does not contain the traditional underwire. Finally, the strap covers the less attractive compression fabric, thus increasing the bra's aesthetic appeal.
The air pad is an external component of the bra. It is positioned where the tumour was, as indicated on the strap. It is stuck to the inside of the strap using doubled-sided tape. The pad can exert additional pressure on the site, decreasing the risk of oedema. Any cavity left by the operation can also be filled in order to improve the symmetry of the breasts.