Armed bandits in Brazil robbed a vehicle carrying more than 400 breast implants, officials said on Tuesday.

"It happened last week, but we only learned about it recently as our clients started complaining. It is the hottest period of the year in terms of implant sales," said Margaret Figueiredo, director of silicone implant manufacturer Silimed.

A spokesman for the state Postal Service confirmed that assailants, apparently men, robbed the postal van with implants on Thursday night in Rio de Janeiro. Each Silimed breast implant costs nearly $400.

The popularity of Brazil's plastic surgery pioneer and trendsetter Ivo Pitanguy, whose clients include celebrities like Sophia Loren, has made the tropical country one of the leading international nip and tuck venues.

Figueiredo explained demand is the highest in July, during the southern hemisphere winter, as women schedule surgery during the winter school holidays, which precede the beach season.

Figueiredo said the implants, each bearing an individual number, could now only be sold for clandestine surgeries. Horrific stories abound in Brazil about the illegal operations that can cause gangrene and death.

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