Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tantalizing Trivia: The First Breast Implants in World War II

By Eve

After many questions about breast implants from customers (at Eve's Apples Lingerie Boutique) and readers of the lingerie blog, I've decided to repost my article from October 27, 2008, providing information about the first breast implants. If you or someone you know is thinking about breast implants, read this article first. Also, keep in mind that you are gorgeous the way you are naturally.

In the 1940s, during World War II, breast implants started in Japan's underground. Japanese prostitutes found that American GIs loved large breasted women and would pay more for an endowed woman. Since the majority of Japanese women are not naturally large breasted, many prostitutes had their doctors inject fluid into their breasts. The first fluids tried were saline and goat's milk. Unsuccessful, saline and milk quickly leaked into the body.

What were the other two fluids that were injected into women's breasts, leading the way for the modern day breast implant?

Were they...

  • Paraffin Wax
  • Vaseline
  • Gelatin
  • Silicone
Scroll below for the answer.

Information for our Tantalizing Trivia is from Sexy Origins & Intimate Things by Charles Panati.
Images on this page are from the film, Memoirs of a Geisha. Geisha and prostitutes were seen in a very different light in Japan.

You are correct if you answered Paraffin Wax and Silicone.

Wax and silicone had mixed results. There were painful and lumpy results with the wax. However, most lasting effects were achieved with silicone. Panati says in his book that, "Determined to have 'American tits,' the girls allowed their doctors to inject Dow Corning's hottest new product, 'insert' liquid silicone, directly into their breasts. Silicone, however, had U.S. military applications, as an insulator, lubricant, and sealant, so the precious chemical was available only on the black market.

Silicone injections worked. The girls' breasts were immediately larger, still soft and pliant, and the fluid did not seem to leak away from the breast tissue into the body (like with saline and milk). By the mid-1940s industrial-grade silicone had become the hottest black-market item in Japan. Large drums of the chemical were mysteriously disappearing from U.S. military bases. The girls' profits were up, GIs were happy. Word got back to U.S. plastic surgeons that silicone was being used in Japan for cosmetic enhancement. Some American surgeons, most notably in Hollywood, began offering silicone injections to film stars and moneyed socialites."

Thus began the hot trend and controversy surrounding breast augmentation.


Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting story but I recently read this article : where they say the first breast augmentation surgery is older than we can imagine:)
It's amazing because I always thought the fist breast augmentation can be older than 30 years....

EvesApples said...

Hi Flory: Thanks for your comment. That was really interesting. I went to the site, and found this tid bit: "In 1895, Czerny published his account of the first breast reconstructive surgery. A cancer patient had a cancerous tumour in one breast, resulting in a mastectomy – removal of the breast. The patient also had a benign lump in the other breast. Although not cancerous, the lump created “asymmetry” according to Czerny. He then performed what is hailed as the world’s first breast augmentation, removing adipose tissue from the benign lumbar limpoma and emplanting it in the site of the removed breast.

Czerny has since been hailed the “Father of Cosmetic Surgery”, and was named President of the International Surgical Congress eight years before his death in 1916."

Thanks for the update!

~ Eve

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found it interesting:) I was also very surprised to see 1895 as the year of the first breast augmentation surgery....


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