This information explains the benefits, risks, and possible complications of penile implants. Please read this information carefully before you decide if you want a penile implant. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor.
What is a penile implant used for?
A penile implant is used to treat impotence (not able to have or keep an erection) in men. This is also called erectile dysfunction (ED).
Implants are used in men who have not responded to other treatments for ED. Other treatments include pills, suppositories, injections, and vacuum devices. Implants are also used in men who have responded to these treatments, but who don’t like the side effects.
Implants do not increase the length of the penis.
What are the benefits of having a penile implant?
- It makes the penis rigid. Patients usually get an erection within 30 seconds after starting to pump the device.
- It doesn’t require taking pills or injecting medication.
What are the risks of having a penile implant?
- The implant must be put in during surgery. Every surgery has some risks and your doctor will discuss these with you.
- The surgery is irreversible. This means that if the implant needs to be removed or you no longer want the implant, no other treatments for ED will work for you.
- The implant can cause some complications. Although they are not common, they can happen. The complications can include:
- Infection. This happens in 1 to 3 out of 100 patients who have a first-time implant. Infection is more common if the surgery needs to be repeated. If the implant gets infected, it will need to be removed. Infections usually occur within the first 8 weeks after surgery, but they may occur up to 1 year after the surgery.
- The device breaks down early. This occurs in about 2 out of every 100 patients who have an implant. The pump or cylinders can stop working in the early months following surgery. If this happens, the device will need to be replaced.
- A new surgery is needed. About 15 to 20 out of every 100 patients who have an implant will need to have a new surgery within the first 10 years. This is because of wear and tear on the device.
- Autoinflation. The device may inflate by itself. It usually needs some exertion for this to happen. We take great care during surgery to prevent this from happening. However, in some cases, it may happen despite our best efforts. This is more likely to happen in people who are overweight or who have had surgery for prostate cancer.
- Scrotal hematoma. This is swelling and bruising of the scrotum, lower abdomen, and inner thighs. Blood can collect and cause a lot of swelling. Your healthcare team will put on a scrotal support (similar to a jockstrap) after your surgery to help prevent this from happening.
- Other less common complications include:
- Erosion, which is when the implant comes through the skin. This is more likely to happen if you have had an infection. The implant will need to be removed.
- Migration, which is when the implant moves out of place. This may require another surgery.
What should I expect after surgery?
- Most people will be able to leave the hospital a few hours after surgery. However, you will have to take at least 7 days off of work to recover.
- You will most likely have pain and swelling for about 2 weeks after surgery.
- You cannot masturbate or engage in any sexual activity for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
- It may take more than 6 months for your penis to feel normal again.
- There should be no change in the quality of your ejaculation or orgasm.