Sexual Health Q&A

Does a penile prosthesis (implant) affect the size of the penis?

A penile prosthesis is a surgically implanted device that allows a man with erectile dysfunction to have erections again. Generally, the procedure is considered if a man is unsuccessful with other treatments, such as oral medications.

When a man has an erection, spongy tissue called the corpora cavernosum becomes engorged with blood. This is what gives the penis the firmness needed for sexual activity.

An implant procedure involves removing the corpora cavernosum and replacing it with inflatable cylinders or malleable rods, depending on the type of implant chosen. Surgeons match the size of the implants with the size of the man’s penis.

Surgery is not intended to lengthen the penis. Also, all implant components are concealed, so the prosthesis should not be noticeable to others.

When considering penile shortening after surgery, it’s important to think about measured loss and perceived loss.

Some men do experience some penile shortening. In the July/August 2014 issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research, scientists reported on a group of twenty men with inflatable implants. The researchers found that after surgery, 70% of the men had length decreases that ranged from 0.5 centimeters to 1.5 centimeters. However, only 43% of those men actually perceived the decrease. In other words, over half of the men did not notice that their penis was shorter after surgery.

Sometimes the loss in penile length is subjective. For example, men who have had erection problems for a long time might not accurately recall their earlier penis size. Older or overweight men may develop a “buried penis” in which part of the shaft becomes “buried” in fat. The penis may not necessarily be shorter. Instead, part of it may not be visible, making it appear shorter than it really is.

Penis size is important to many men. It’s natural for a man considering implant surgery to feel anxious about size after the procedure. He should feel free to discuss these concerns with his doctor. A urologist or surgeon can explain how the procedure could affect length in his situation.