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In June 2017, it was reported that a survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that 31 percent of millennial men were considering cosmetic surgery.
The procedures most commonly cited were rhinoplasty, otoplasty, in which the ears are pinned back, and gynecomastia, a surgery performed to reduce the breast size of a male.
And although “penile enhancement” surgery was not on the list, a reported 8,400 procedures are performed globally every year according to international plastic surgery statistics.
As Men’s Health UK reports, penile enhancement surgery, sometimes referred to as penoplasty, can add length and girth to the male member first by a snipping a ligament at the base of the penis and reattaching it to the pubic bone further down, and then by injecting fat cells from the abdomen into the base of the penis.
As a result, a man can achieve a longer, “fuller” appearance when standing naked in front of the mirror.
According to the Mayo Clinic, penile enhancement surgery is risky and there are not enough conclusive studies to accurately weigh the risks and rewards.
At best, the Mayo Clinic states, up to half of an inch can be added on a flaccid penis; at worse, permanent damage can occur such as infection, scarring, and loss of sensation or function.
Now, it has come to light that a man in Sweden who underwent the operation became the first person to experience the most severe complication from having his penis “enhanced.”
A case study published by the Journal of Forensic Sciences claimed a young man was admitted to a private plastic surgery clinic in Sweden to have the operation performed. Toward the end of the procedure, he suffered a heart attack. The 30-year-old man was sent to the emergency room but died two hours later:
“This is the first described case where a seemingly simple and safe procedure of penis enlargement by autologous fat transfer caused sudden death in a healthy young man,” reports the Journal of Forensic Sciences case study.
According to Buzzfeed News, the man had completed the first part of the surgery in which his penis was elongated. During the second phase, in which surgeons were injecting fat cells from his stomach into the phallus, his heart started racing, and his oxygen levels decreased while his blood pressure dropped.
According to the Journal, it is a “rare but feared complication” of liposuction.
The case study concluded that the young man may have been at greater risk due to the fat injection occurring over “pretraumatized” skin, in this instance, the area of the penis that had already been cut during surgery as part of the elongation process.
Buzzfeed adds that the findings suggest the two surgeries should not be performed at the same time.
However, according to a Mayo Clinic urologist, Tobias Kohler, the surgery should not be performed at all.
According to Buzzfeed, Kohler called the surgery “useless”:
“It’s a completely useless procedure that never works and disfigures men, and could kill you,” urologist Tobias Kohler of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not part of the study, told BuzzFeed News. “This is the worst case, but there are lots of other horrible consequences, from disfigurement to permanent erectile disfunction to even worse.
If you end up with something that nobody recognizes as a penis,” he added, “that is what we call sub-optimal.”
According to a February 2017 review of penile elongation surgery published by the National Institutes of Health Library of Medicine, many men who elect to have the procedure have a normal-sized penis, suggesting that patients could be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, in which their perception of their body is skewed, reports Buzzfeed.
Although there appear to be many serious risks associated with penile enhancement surgery, one plastic surgeon told Men’s Health UK that “business is booming.”