Penis Enlargement: Does It Work? (cont.)

There are two basic penis enlargement surgeries.

  • Lengthening the penis. The penis is connected to your pelvis with a tough fiber called the suspensory ligament. This holds back some of the penis shaft and hides it inside your body. Surgically cutting the ligament releases the tension and -- theoretically -- more of the shaft becomes outwardly visible. To prevent the ligament from reattaching, you will probably need to attach weights or stretching devices to your penis daily for about six months.

  • Widening the penis. The original technique was to take fat from elsewhere in the body and inject it into the shaft of the penis to bulk it up. It didn't work. The fat would get partially absorbed and your penis would be left looking lumpy. "These penises looked like cobblestone streets," says Solomon.

    A newer version of this technique uses implanted allograft, tissue harvested from cadavers that's used in many types of reconstructive surgery. Surgeons who do the procedure -- such as Solomon and Brian J. Rosenthal, MD, a urologist in Beverly Hills -- say that the allograft lasts longer and provides a much better result. We'll never know how the tissue donors would feel about their second lives as penis stuffing.

Other penis enlargement surgeries are available. In overweight or obese patients, the fat at the base of the penis may be removed by liposuction. While some surgeons will do both lengthening and widening at once as a deluxe package, others prefer to do them in stages.

While Rosenthal predicts that penis enlargement is about to become as common as breast enlargement, Solomon disagrees. He says the biggest obstacle is the price. Penis lengthening costs anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. But when it comes to widening, the cost of allograft alone is $5,000 to $7,000 -- omitting the costs of the surgery itself. To get the works, you might easily need more than $20,000.

Penis enlargement risks and disasters

However, before you take out a penile improvement loan and slap your penis down on the operating table, it's important to consider the risks. No major medical organization has approved of these surgeries for men with a normal penis. The American Urological Association stresses that they have not been proven safe or effective.

The few studies that have been done aren't encouraging. The European Urology study looked at 42 men who had lengthening procedures and found that only 35% were satisfied with the results; 50% went on to seek further surgery.

"I've seen some real disasters," says O'Leary, describing times he has repaired the damage caused by augmentation gone wrong. Known complications include scarring, infections, loss of a normal erection angle, decrease in sensation, and impotence. Occasionally, lengthening can actually make you shorter: Scar tissue reconnects the penis to the pelvis and draws more of the shaft into your body.

Surgeons who do the procedures say they have good outcomes and serious complications are rare. "I've done thousands of these surgeries," says Rosenthal. "Our techniques have improved a great deal and patients are benefiting."

They are also tired of the argument that men who want this surgery need psychiatric help. This surgery just allows men to feel better about themselves, they say. Of course, there are risks, but that's true of any cosmetic surgery. Would a woman who wants bigger breasts be called crazy? Why is penis enlargement any different?

O'Leary insists it is. Unlike breast augmentation, which has for better or worse become standard, penis augmentation has not.

"If I thought there was a legitimate procedure to augment the penis, I wouldn't have any problem with it," O'Leary says. "But we just don't have an effective, proven, and safe way to offer it."

Doctor-approved penis enlargement!

If you were hoping to find something that works, don't despair. There is one penis enlargement technique that all doctors actually recommend: weight loss. Yeah, it's a bit of a cheat, but it can help.

"A lot of the guys I see who think they're below average are pretty overweight," says Boyle. Their penises are normal but look shorter because they are buried in fat. Being overweight can also make your normal penis look proportionally smaller than the rest of you. So slimming down can help your penis look bigger and longer.

Be wary of everything else. Most penis enlargement techniques are a waste of money. Surgery is expensive, risky, and unstudied. If you have terminal cancer, getting an experimental surgery is often worth the risk. But that's not what we're talking about.

Look at it this way: The penis is an incredibly delicate and sensitive organ. That's what makes it so fantastic. So think very, very carefully before you start messing with it. Is it worth risking an average-sized penis that works to take up the quest for a porn star monster that might not?


American Urological Association: "Services." Karen Elizabeth Boyle, MD, assistant professor of urology, Brady Urological Institute; director, Reproductive Medicine and Surgery, Greenspring Station, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD. Chi-Ling, L. et al, European Urology, January 13, 2006; vol 49: pp 729-733. Driel, M.F. et al, British Journal of Urology, 1998; vol 82: pp 81-85. Friedman, D. A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis, Penguin, 2001. International Journal of Impotence Research, 2002; vol 15: pp S44-S45. Kinsey Institute: "Are Penis Pumps Safe?" and "Penis Size." Michael O'Leary, MD, associate professor of urologic surgery, Harvard Medical School; urologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Brian J. Rosenthal, MD, urologist, Beverly Hills, CA. Mark P. Solomon, MD, plastic surgeon, Philadelphia, PA. Vardi, Y. European Urology, January 13, 2006; vol 49: pp 609-611.

Reviewed on December 16, 2009

Last Editorial Review: 12/16/2009 8:28:10 PM

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