In 1962, Texan Timmie Jean Lindsey became the first woman to receive breast implants. Timmie Jean, who is now a 75-year-old great-grandmother, granted an interview to the Daily Mail and, though she was really a guinea pig, says she is a "pioneer" who is proud of what she's done. Still, her journey has been long and difficult. When she was 15, she married a carpenter, and had six kids in nine years. She left him when she was 26 and started dating a Mexican immigrant named Fred Reyes, who persuaded her to have red roses tattooed on each of her breasts. She regretted the decision and went to visit a charity clinic, where a young plastic surgeon, Frank Gerow, offered to remove the tattoos using dermabrasion. And when she came back for a follow-up visit, Dr. Gerow suggested Timmie Jean test out his new procedure for sagging breasts: The silicone implant. Timmie Jean was surprised. "It wasn't my breasts that bothered me, it was my ears," she says. "I told Dr Gerow I'd do the new breasts if he would fix my ears."
Although doctors had previously injected silicone directly into women's breasts (resulting in massive inflammatory reactions, ugh), Timmie Jean became the first woman ever to have silicone-filled bags implanted into her chest cavity. At first, her breasts "looked beautiful," Timmie Jean says. But ten years after the operation, Timmie Jean's breasts began to harden, she began to experience shooting pains and then "hurting everywhere." Still, her sister-in law and one of her daughters also opted for implants. And when a class-action lawsuit was filed against implant manufacturer Dow Corning, Timmie Jean testified that she had no complaints. (She admits she was paid "a minimal amount" by Dow.) Now, 45 years after her operation, Timmie Jean is afraid to have her implants removed, even though one of them has a small tear in the shell and she experiences pains in her chest that can last for weeks and feel like she's broken a rib.
'I'm a sissy now, she said. 'I'm afraid of what might happen if I go under.'