A penile implant, also known as a penile prosthesis, is a device that’s surgically placed inside the penis to allow a man to achieve and maintain an erection. This surgery is typically considered for men who have erectile dysfunction that has not responded to other treatments.
There are two main types of penile implants:
- Inflatable Implants:
- These are the most common type of penile implant and consist of two or three components. The three-piece implant has a fluid-filled reservoir implanted under the abdominal wall, a pump and release valve placed inside the scrotum, and two inflatable cylinders inside the penis. To get an erection, the man presses on the pump. This transfers fluid from the reservoir to the cylinders. Pressing the release valve drains the fluid back into the reservoir, deflating the penis.
- A two-piece inflatable implant has the reservoir at the beginning of the cylinders (at the base of the penis) rather than separate. It functions similarly but may not get as rigid as the three-piece implant.
- Semirigid Rods (Malleable Implants):
- This type of implant involves placing two matching rods surgically into the penis. The rods are always firm but can be bent into different positions. The penis can be positioned either toward the body for everyday activities or away from the body for sexual activity.
- Anesthesia: The surgery is typically done under general or spinal anesthesia.
- Incision: A small incision is made at the base of the penis or in the lower abdomen.
- Placement: The chosen implant is then placed inside the penis. If a three-piece inflatable implant is chosen, a reservoir is also placed under the abdominal wall via the same incision or a separate incision.
- Closure: The incision is then sutured closed.
- Recovery: The surgery usually requires an overnight hospital stay. The patient might be advised to refrain from sexual activity for 4-6 weeks.
- Effectiveness: A penile implant allows spontaneous erections and has high satisfaction rates among those who have tried and failed other treatments for ED.
- Irreversible: The natural erectile tissue is removed and cannot be restored. If the implant is later removed, the penis may not have a natural erection.
- Potential Complications: As with any surgery, there’s a risk of complications like infection, bleeding, and anesthesia risks. There’s also a small chance that the implant could malfunction, erode through the skin, or migrate.
- Longevity: While implants are built to last a long time, they may eventually need to be replaced.
It’s crucial for individuals considering this surgery to have thorough consultations with experienced urologists or surgeons, understand the risks and benefits, and set realistic expectations.