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Many men live in fear that their penis suffers from Wizard of Oz syndrome—when it’s time to pull back the curtain, they’ll be revealed as rather… unimpressive. The reality is, most men who worry about their penis size are well within the normal range.
Still, many men worry about how to get a bigger penis. Here are the most common procedures or devices that people use for penis enlargement—many of which come with some severe risks. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Increase penis length with surgery
With penis enlargement surgery, a surgeon cuts the ligament that attaches the penis to the pubic bone, increasing the perceived length of the penis.
Is this procedure recommended? Not according to Seth Cohen, MD, a urologist with NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, who frequently sees patients expressing concern about their penis size and asking about penis enlargements.
“The suspensory ligament suspends the penis just like the suspension on a bridge. If you cut the suspensory posts on a bridge, the bridge will lag lower,” says Cohen. “But I really don’t recommend it, because your erection will never point north again.”
The research backs up Cohen’s view on these surgeries—satisfaction rates aren’t high, and most surgeons will only recommend these procedures in the rare case of a true micropenis (Campbell, 2017).
2. Increase penis girth with surgery
Some providers offer surgery to increase penis girth. There are two primary approaches used.
One approach is for the patient’s own fat to be injected into their penis, resulting in an increase in girth. These procedures aren’t generally recommended because they haven’t been shown to be very effective (UCF, n.d.).
Another approach is when a substance like AlloDerm—sterilized tissue harvested from cadavers—is wrapped under the skin of the penis like seaweed in a sushi roll, resulting in a girth increase. This is called “off-label use“— AlloDerm is approved for burn therapy and reconstructive surgery, not penis enlargement, though healthcare providers can use a medication or device for unapproved purposes if they believe it is in the best interest of the patient.
There are reports in the medical literature of complications like infection and skin necrosis when AlloDerm is used for penis augmentation (Solomon, 2013; Bruno, 2007).
3. Penis injections
To enhance girth, some doctors inject temporary cosmetic fillers into the penis, similar to the fillers used on lips, brows, and smile lines to plump them up.
“I’ve never done this, but I’ve seen them done a few times,” says Cohen. “It really depends on the substances you use. Restylane and Juvederm are tried-and-true substances we use as fillers, on cheeks, chins and different areas in the body. They usually last around six months, and they get absorbed into the body. They’re not really tried-and-true tested on the penis. We just don’t have any data to say it works long-term.”
There is a significant potential downside to shooting fillers into your penis. “The penis is a very vascular organ, full of smooth muscle and spaces that hold blood,” says Cohen. “If you fill one area, it may look very blotchy in another area. So you get this sort of lumpy, bumpy effect that is probably not what people are looking for.”
4. Penis implants
Permanent penis implants placed under the skin of the penis have been available for decades for men with ED that doesn’t respond to the usual treatments.
In 2004, the FDA approved a silicone sleeve called Penuma for cosmetic enhancement. It costs $13,000. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at 400 men who had gotten Penuma implants; they experienced a 56.7% increase in girth, on average, and two years later, 81% of them reported “high” or “very high” satisfaction (Elist, 2018). A small study in three men with a “buried penis” also found an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem one year after the procedure (Elist, 2020).
A number of urologists now offer the procedure, but not every urologist will recommend a penis implant for enlargement. “Penile implants are appropriate in men who have erectile dysfunction that doesn’t respond to more conservative therapies,” says Landon Trost, MD, a urologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “The issue with penile fillers or implants is that they have many side effects. Fillers and Penuma are generally not recommended by the far majority of sexual medicine specialists.” Side effects of implants can include sexual dysfunction, infection, penis deformities, and more (Furr, 2018). More research is needed on these procedures.
5. Penile extenders
Penis extenders are traction devices that you strap to your flaccid penis and wear for an extended time, usually several hours a day. This can result in penile lengthening, although it might take months to see results.
“Nearly anything can be stretched in the body, including the penis, and that has been done for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years,” says Trost, who developed a traction device called RestoreX to help men with Peyronie’s Disease, a condition in which the penis becomes unnaturally bent.
In three randomized, controlled trials, nearly all men who used RestoreX experienced penile lengthening, says Trost (Joseph, 2020). “Regarding penile girth, that is less well established,” he says. “There are no known therapies which have consistently shown an ability to increase penile girth outside of penile injections (fillers) or surgery.”
6. Jelqing (aka penis stretching)
There’s plenty of info online about jelqing, or stretching exercises in which the flaccid penis is pulled and massaged with the fingers or a specially designed device. But results aren’t permanent, and jelqing comes with no small risk of injury.
“I’ve had plenty of patients come to see me, post-jelqing, with neurological tears, so now they have a numb penis, or tearing and overstretching of the arteries and veins, so they have permanent ED,” says Cohen. “If you tear the microvasculature or micro neurological input to the penis, no one can correct that.”
In short, jelqing is not recommended.
7. Penis pumps
Penis pumps—vacuum devices that coax blood flow into the penis—will cause an erection, but they won’t permanently make your penis bigger.
In a study published in BJU International, 37 men used penis pumps for 20 minutes, three times a week, for six months. Researchers found that the participants’ average penis length increased by only .3 cm (which was not statistically significant), the treatment was only 10% effective, and only 30% of the patients were satisfied (Aghamir, 2006).
Trost doesn’t even recommend penis pumps for ED treatment because they might cause the disorder they’re being used to correct. “There is a question as to whether use of a vacuum device in younger men, who are trying to augment the penile girth, may result in some degree of erectile dysfunction,” says Trost. “In general, men who try vacuum devices for ED use them a few times and then put them on the shelf.”
8. Male enhancement pills
No matter how sweet the siren song of those “male enhancement pills” behind the bodega counter or in Google ads, they won’t make your penis bigger, according to the experts. “There are no supplements out there that are going to grow the size of your penis,” says Cohen.
Sildenafil (Generic Viagra®)
As strong as the brand but more affordable. Treats erectile dysfunction for up to 90% less than the cost of Viagra®.
The Little Blue Pill works on demand. It works within 30-60 minutes when used as directed, so you’ll be ready for sex fast.
Cialis® can be taken either as needed or daily for erectile dysfunction. Unlike Viagra®, the effects can last 24–36 hours.
Don’t put your love life on hold. Get medication prescribed by a US-licensed healthcare professional.
9. Losing weight
An easy way to make your penis looks larger might be to lose weight—in men with excess body fat, fat in the pubic area can protrude over the penis, making the shaft of the penis look smaller. Extreme cases have earned the phenomenon a name: buried penis syndrome.
See your healthcare provider to discuss whether losing weight, improving your diet, or getting more exercise can benefit your sexual health. All three have been associated with an improvement in erection quality and erectile dysfunction (ED). While losing weight can certainly help address obesity-related buried penis, it’s important to understand that some people are predisposed to excess fat around the pubic area. If that’s the case, your healthcare provider may recommend seeing if surgery is appropriate for you (Ho, 2018).
10. Manscaping for a larger penis
An even easier way to make your penis look bigger is to trim your pubic hair. Cutting your pubes a bit closer to the base of the penis can make it appear to have more length. Naturally, you’ll want to exercise caution in this area. There are several “body grooming” shavers on the market; they include guards and attachments that can help you get a more consistent result and avoid undesirable nicks and cuts in an extremely sensitive area.
Do you have penis dysmorphia?
The penis-enlargement industry, such as it is, has sprung up and continues to grow—so to speak—largely because porn and pop culture have caused some men to develop unrealistic expectations and disordered thinking about wanting a bigger penis. The fact of the matter is that the average penis is 5.16 inches erect, and nearly 90% of guys have a penis between 4 and 6 inches (Veale, 2014).
In a survey of 52,031 heterosexual men and women, researchers reported that 85% of women said they were satisfied with their partner’s penis size, but only 55% of men were satisfied with the size of their penis (Lever, 2006).
Psychologists term this “small penis anxiety” or “penis dysmorphic disorder” (PDD)—the irrational, unshakable belief that your size isn’t satisfactory (Veale, 2015). This condition is related to body dysmorphic disorder.
“This is something that gets stuck in our heads—you watch too much porn, and all the porn stars have these massive penises. But those are often also augmented or injected with different substances to give them an artificial erection,” says Cohen. “So don’t believe what you see on TV.”
If you’re struggling with penis anxiety or penis dysmorphia, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a referral to a mental health professional who can help.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Aghamir, M. K., Hosseini, R., & Alizadeh, F. (2006). A vacuum device for penile elongation: fact or fiction? BJU International, 97(4), 777–778. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410x.2006.05992.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16536772/
- Bruno, J. J., Senderoff, D. M., Fracchia, J. A., & Armenakas, N. A. (2007). Reconstruction of penile wounds following complications of AlloDerm-based augmentation phalloplasty. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 119(1). doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000245340.95313.d9. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6547870_Reconstruction_of_Penile_Wounds_following_Complications_of_AlloDerm-Based_Augmentation_Phalloplasty
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- Elist, J. J., Valenzuela, R., Hillelsohn, J., Feng, T., & Hosseini, A. (2018, September). A Single-Surgeon Retrospective and Preliminary Evaluation of the Safety and Effectiveness of the Penuma Silicone Sleeve Implant for Elective Cosmetic Correction of the Flaccid Penis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30145095
Elist, J. J (2020). Correction of retractile penis with subcutaneous soft silicone penile implant. International journal of impotence research. Doi: 10.1038/s41443-019-0174-3. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31383992/
- Ho, T. S. & Gelman, J. (2018). Evaluation and management of adult acquired buried penis. Translational Andrology and Urology, 7(4); 618-627. doi: 10.21037/tau.2018.05.06. Retrieved from https://tau.amegroups.com/article/view/19702/20459
- Joseph, J., Ziegelmann, M. J., Alom, M., Savage, J., Köhler, T. S., & Trost, L. (2020). Outcomes of RestoreX Penile Traction Therapy in Men With Peyronie’s Disease: Results From Open Label and Follow-up Phases. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 17(12), 2462–2471. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2020.10.003. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33223425/
- Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., & Peplau, L. A. (2006). Does size matter? Mens and womens views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7(3), 129–143. doi: 10.1037/1524-9188.8.131.52. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2006-09081-001
- Solomon, M. P., Komlo, C., & Defrain, M. (2013). Allograft materials in phalloplasty: a comparative analysis. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 71(3), 297–299. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e318281aece. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23722580/
- Urology Care Foundation. (n.d.). Penile augmentation. Retrieved on Nov. 30, 2021 from https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/p/penile-augmentation
- Veale, D., Miles, S., Bramley, S., Muir, G., & Hodsoll, J. (2014). Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men. BJU International, 115(6), 978–986. doi: 10.1111/bju.13010. Retrieved from https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bju.13010
- Veale, D., Miles, S., Read, J., Troglia, A., Carmona, L., Fiorito, C., et al. (2015). Penile dysmorphic disorder: development of a screening scale. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44(8), 2311–2321. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0484-6. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25731908/
Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.