Hiding the Scars: A History of Post-Mastectomy Breast Prostheses, 1945–2000

As the public discussion of all cancers, and of breast cancer in particular, expanded after World War II, capitalist ventures emerged to meet the demands of those affected by the disease. For women who had mastectomies this meant a greater choice of breast prostheses but also a clearer message that the scars from surgery should be hidden from public view. This work analyzes the breast prosthesis industry as a beauty business. Considering the use of breast prostheses as a contested part of cancer recovery, the article traces the evolution and expansion of the breast prosthesis industry from 1945 to 2000 and examines how the industry has responded to consumer demand, created a niche for itself within the “healing process,“ and capitalized on notions of feminine beauty.