Is My Penis Too Small?
Micropenis, Inconspicuous Penis Less Common Than Small Penis Syndrome
Can Surgery Make a Small Penis Larger?
It's hard for a man to open his email without encountering an offer of a drug, device, or surgical procedure that will give him a bigger penis.
Sure, that stuff is just spam. But are there legitimate ways to lengthen a penis?
"There isn't much to make the penis larger," Palmer says. "Surgically, there is not much to significantly increase penis size or girth that is not fraught with significant complications."
Procedures known as "augmentative phalloplasty" promise to make a penis wider in girth. And because these procedures add weight to the penis -- by grafting fat from another part of the body -- they make the penis a half-inch or so longer when flaccid.
"Getting a uniformly even expansion of girth is unpredictable and often does not lead to a good outcome," Palmer says. "You have to hope you do not get a lumpy penis. This is not an easy thing to do."
Most men do not know that only about two-thirds of their penis protrudes from their bodies. The other third, held in place with ligaments, provides the leverage for sexual function.
One surgical technique cuts these tendons and allows the penis to protrude another inch or two. Gilbert takes a dim view of the technique, because the penis loses its leverage.
"When surgeons take the inside part of the penis and move it out, the most common outcome is their erection no longer goes up but down," he says. "If a man is unhappy with his penis length, he is going to be unhappy with a penis he has to pick up and insert. I've had men ask me, 'Can you put it back the way it was?'"
Gilbert says that because of the high complication rate, malpractice insurance rarely covers penis-lengthening procedures.
All of these procedures are considered "experimental surgery." Severe complications include -- but are not limited to -- penis shortening, a lumpy or uneven appearance, scarring, sexual dysfunction, and curvature of the penis. These complications often cannot be corrected.
Can Devices Make a Small Penis Larger?
Traction devices that stretch the penis may actually add an inch or so to penis length, based on small studies and anecdotal reports. Gilbert says he is following two patients who are using these devices in an effort to make their penises longer.
"These devices have to be worn for several hours a day, for many months," he says. "Most people, even if they are highly motivated, don't have that kind of time. So I'm not sure a lot of patients have the time or energy or perseverance to do that."
Vacuum devices may help men with erectile dysfunction achieve an erection -- but they do not make the penis larger.