Surgery is risky and may not work

Studies have shown that the majority of men who undergo penis-enlargement surgery aren't satisfied with the results. At best, surgery may add half an inch (1 cm) to the length of the flaccid 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 penis doesn't function normally because of a birth defect or injury.

Although cosmetic penis enlargement is offered by some surgeons, it's controversial and considered by many to be unnecessary and potentially harmful. A few different techniques are used to lengthen a penis. All of them 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 shaft of the penis. The results are often disappointing, however, because much of the injected fat is reabsorbed by the body. This can lead to curvature or asymmetry of the penis. Another technique for increasing width is grafting tissue onto the shaft of the penis.

None of these procedures has been proved to be safe or effective.

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 puts back in your sex life.
  • Get in shape and lose the belly fat. If you're overweight and have a "beer gut," you might look as if you have a shorter penis than you actually do. Regular exercise can make a big difference. Better physical conditioning may not only make you look better, but can also give you more strength and endurance during sex.
  • Trim your pubic hair. A lot of pubic hair around the base of your penis can make your penis look shorter. Trimming may make your penis look bigger. It may also increase sensitivity around the base of your penis.
  • Talk to your doctor or a counselor. Feeling unhappy about the size of your penis is a common problem. 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 think they have a small penis and 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 as much as you thought. Before you resort to time-consuming, expensive or dangerous techniques that will be minimally effective at best, consider other options.

The most effective solution 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.

May. 21, 2011 See more In-depth