Originally published on Alternet. written by Andy Wright
You can’t really say the penis doesn’t get enough attention. There’s a fertility festival in Japan called Kanamara Matsuri that celebrates the appendage, there’s the Icelandic Phallological Museum, and a Chinese penis restaurant where diners can sup on the wangs of various animals. At one point, a luxury car manufacturer scrapped plans to produce an SUV upholstered in whale penis due to pressure from environmentalists.
The only place where penises seem to go overlooked is at the drugstore. While entire sections are devoted to the de-scenting and cleaning of women’s genitals (most of which do more harm than good) there’s no “masculine care” aisle. Men just aren’t expected to put as much time and thought into maintaining and modifying their junk.
But that doesn’t mean men haven’t fallen prey to unattainable standards of perfection as well, going under the knife and performing dangerous procedures at home, to attain the perfect penis. And by “perfect,” I mean huge. The majority of services available to men in the genital upkeep department promise to make their penises bigger and thicker. But while medically questionable procedures to enhance the penis abound, it’s only one of the many things men can do to their nether regions in the name of perfection.
1. Lengthening Surgery
Part of the penis resides within the body, and naturally, some people think it should reside outside the body. Enter the surgeon. A procedure called ligamentolysis will give men two to three extra centimeters by severing the suspensory ligament that holds part of the penile shaft inside the body, allowing it to drop. (Because that ligament was not there for a reason.) Not surprisingly, all that severing for not much extra length has left most men dissatisfied with the results. One study put the rate of satisfaction with the operation at a dismal 35 percent, and the American Urological Association (AUA) sniffs that the procedure is neither “safe or efficacious.” Not that this has stopped men from exploring alternate routes of medically assisted enhancement: like grafting the skin of dead people onto their genitals.
2. Zombie Penis
AlloDerm is a product made by a company called LifeCell made from donated human skin tissue. Its Web site promotes it for the use of hernia repair and breast reconstruction, but some surgeon’s Web sites advertise it for a different use: widening the penis. Sheets of cadaver harvested tissue are attached to the penis to increase its girth. This procedure is heartily endorsed by the American Academy of Phalloplasty Surgeons, despite the fact that LifeCell does not advocate using AlloDerm for penis widening. AAPS was founded in part by the father of penis enlargement, Sheldon Burman, and the one-time president of AAPS is Dr. E. Douglas Whitehead, a surgeon whose Web site also promotes the use of AlloDerm. Specifically, the adding of “multiple layers of of Allograft Dermal Matrix Graft (AlloDerm) under the penile skin on top of the erectile chambers to give thickness by ‘stacking’ or ‘folding’ the grafts.”
Men who aren’t quite prepared to pay thousands of dollars to Soylent Green their junk can opt to have fat sucked out of various parts of their bodies and then re-injected into the penis. (The killjoys at AUA also frown on this procedure.) If the body doesn’t re-absorb the fat, there’s still the issue of side effects like bruising, swelling, lumps and infection. And these side effects pale in comparison to those suffered by men who undertake injections at home.
Despite a general aversion to poking the penis with sharp things, men have nonetheless taken up syringes and attempted to enlarge their members with a number of substances, with alarming results. While some shots are medically sanctioned (Caverject is just one of the medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction that can be injected directly into the penis), others are definitely not.
In 2005 the chief of the Department of Medical services in Thailand issued a plea for young men to stop injecting Vaseline and olive oil into their penises at the risk of suffering deformities. In 2007 the Wisconsin Medical Journal recounted the stories of three Hmong immigrants who had all separately injected their foreskins with a plethora of substances, from ylang-ylang oil to Chinese herbal medicine in attempts to improve sexual performance, requiring medical intervention ranging from emergency circumcisions to skin grafts. In 2008 Cases Journal published the account of a 30-year-old Bulgarian who shot liquid paraffin into his penis and tied it up with a cord “in order to achieve both enlargement and elongation.” The patient, whom the author delicately describes as suffering from a “unique deformity,” fled the emergency room before treatment could be given. And in January 2010 Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice carried the singularly horrifying tale of a man who was suffering from necrosis of the penis due to “injection of liquid silicone by an unskilled practitioner.” (Necrosis is the irreversible death of cells and living tissue.)
4. Scrotal Enhancement
Cosmetic surgery for male genitalia is not limited to the penis. There is also a market for exploiting male insecurity over the appearance of their testicles. Scrotal enhancement operates on the assumptions that in order for testicles to look right, they have to be perfectly round, large and of equal size. (Of course, this is rarely the case in nature, but what does nature know about aesthetically pleasing testicles, anyway?) Testicular prosthesis have been around since 1941, but were developed to replace missing testicles, not enhance existing ones.
Today men can have silicone implants of varying size (one Web site reads like a fast food menu, offering medium, large and extra large) inserted in their scrotum to produce what one doctor’s promotional material describes as a “manly” look. Another doctor’s Web site touts the benefits of scrotal enhancement: “This procedure will also relieve the concern of many men who are not satisfied with their body image and self conscious due to large, loose, unaesthetic, bothersome and extended scrotal sac.” The same Web site warns that implants can harden causing “pain and discomfort.”
5. Foreskin Restoration
The argument over circumcision is a kind of perfect storm of sensitive issues: child-rearing, religion, medicine and masculinity. Camps for and against will argue there are health benefits to be had from either removing the foreskin or leaving it intact. But the anti-circumcision crowd has a particularly compelling talking point at its disposal: many people believe that circumcision significantly decreases sexual pleasure. And this is why a small but vocal movement has cropped up (primarily in the U.S.) to help men “restore” their foreskin.
Foreskin restoration is exactly what it sounds like: circumcised men attempting to replace lost foreskin. This can be acheived surgically through skin grafts, or via do-it-yourself methods. There are an abundance of these, including “tugging” (pulling at the skin in a repetitive way every day), taping (like tugging, but with tape), attaching weights, or using devices with names like MySkinClamp. The idea is to gradually stretch out the remaining skin until a foreskin can be approximated. There are support groups and Web sites dedicated to the practice of growing foreskin at home, and while many claim a sense of violation and a need to be “whole” again, most of the arguments in favor of re-growing foreskin are sexual. The National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) touts sexual sensitivity as the first reason to restore in its FAQ. But despite glowing testimonials on discussion boards, the efficacy of such practices for restoring sexual sensitivity are generally discounted by the medical community because practitioners aren’t regrowing anything: they’re just stretching out existing skin.
6. The Rest of the Package
Just because the beauty industrial complex has managed to largely overlook the penis doesn’t mean there aren’t some creatively absurd products available to men. A product called NodorO claims to cure “Male Genital Odor,” or MGO. The Web site promises that the penis will “smell perfect” following application of the stuff, whose active ingredient is a common over-the-counter antifungal. Apparently, there weren’t enough men interested in having perfect-smelling penises, because the product could not be purchased through the site at the time this article was written.
In the same vein, several products claim to make men’s semen taste better to their sex partners. A product called Ambrosia made of “a blend of fruit and spice extracts” claims to make semen taste “pleasant” and less like “salty snot” or “Clorox and cheese.” A product called Sweet Release promises to make ejaculate taste like green apple pie. Men can purchase “bulge enhancing” underwear with names like Cocoksox and Wonderjock. Most claim to augment male genitals sans padding, but at least one, the Andrew Christian “Shock Jock” utilizes a hidden cup to add “at least” two inches to the existing bulge.
And finally, for the penis that has everything, Dapper Dick’s Dapper Dick sells tiny outfits for penises ranging from soldier fatigues to a tiny pinstripe suit, button-up shirt and tie.
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