(Sydney Morning Herald) — Controversy surrounds the demand for breast implants in their 50-year history, writes Kira Cochrane.

It was in 1962 that Timmie Jean Lindsey was offered a solution to a non-existent problem. A factory worker from Texas, she had married at 15, had six children, divorced in her mid-20s, and taken up with a man who encouraged her to have a vine tattooed on her cleavage. Roses tumbled across her breasts.

When the relationship faltered, Lindsey decided she wanted the tattoos removed. ”I was ashamed,” she says, ”and I needed them taken off.” Her low-paid work made her eligible for treatment at a charity hospital, where she was told the tattoo could be removed through dermabrasion. And the doctors had another proposal. Had she ever thought about breast implants?

Lindsey had not. She’d never felt self-conscious about her breasts – and even if she had, the options at that time were primitive and problematic, involving substances injected directly into women’s chests, or implants made of sponge.

”The only person I’d ever talked to about breast implants was my cousin,” says Lindsey, ”who had had some kind of surgery. She said, ‘Sometimes I wake up and my breast has moved to another part of my body’ and I thought, ‘My God. I never want that.’ It wasn’t long after she and I talked that I came into contact with these doctors.”

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