Surgery is risky and may not work

Studies of available surgical techniques to lengthen the penis have found mixed results in safety, effectiveness and patient satisfaction.

At best, surgery such as division of the suspensory ligament may add half an inch (1 centimeter) to the appearance of the flaccid penis but does not change actual length of the penis. At worst, surgery can result in complications such as infection, scarring, and loss of sensation or function.

Surgical methods of penis enlargement — Not for cosmetic use

The need for penis-enlargement surgery is rare. Surgery is typically reserved for men whose penises don't function normally because of a birth defect or injury.

Although some surgeons offer cosmetic penis enlargement using various techniques, it's controversial and considered by many to be unnecessary and in some cases permanently harmful. These surgeries should be considered experimental. There aren't enough studies of penis-enlargement surgery to give an accurate picture of risks and benefits.

The most widely used surgical procedure to lengthen the penis involves severing the suspensory ligament that attaches the penis to the pubic bone and moving skin from the abdomen to the penile shaft. When this ligament is cut, the penis appears longer because more of it hangs down.

But cutting the suspensory ligament can cause an erect penis to be unstable. Severing the suspensory ligament is sometimes combined with other procedures, such as removing excess fat over the pubic bone.

A procedure to make the penis thicker involves taking fat from a fleshy part of the body and injecting it into the penis shaft. Results may be disappointing, however, because some of the injected fat may be reabsorbed by the body. This can lead to penile curvature or asymmetry and an irregular looking penis.

Another technique for increasing width is grafting tissue onto the shaft of the penis. None of these procedures has been proved safe or effective and can even affect potency and your ability to obtain an erection.

A few things that might actually help

Although there's no guaranteed safe and effective way to enlarge your penis, there are a few things you can do if you're concerned about your penis size.

  • Communicate with your partner. It may be hard to break old habits or to discuss sexual preferences with your partner. But you'll be glad you did — and you may be surprised at the spark it ignites in your sex life.
  • Get in shape and lose the belly fat. If you're overweight and have a "beer gut," your penis might appear shorter than it is.

    Regular exercise can make a big difference. Better physical conditioning may not only make you look better, but also can improve strength and endurance during sex.

  • Talk to your doctor or a counselor. Feeling unhappy about the size of your penis is common. A certified counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or your family doctor can help.

Many men feel better with reassurance that they are "normal" or with advice about how to better satisfy their partner without resorting to cosmetic penis enlargement.

The bottom line

Many men believe that increasing the size of their penis will make them a better lover or make them more attractive. But chances are your penis is within the normal size range.

Even if your penis is smaller than average, it may not matter to your partner. In addition, there's no proven way to make a penis larger.

The solution to your concerns about penis size may be as easy as talking with your partner or getting in shape. If those steps don't help, try talking with a professional counselor about your concerns.

June 22, 2017 See more In-depth