How Do Penile Implants Work

How Do Penile Implants Work , Effective ?

How Do Penile Implants Work . A penile implant is a device that is surgically implanted into the penis to help achieve and maintain an erection. The implant consists of inflatable cylinders that are placed inside the penis and connected to a fluid-filled reservoir and pump that sits inside the scrotum. Penile implants are typically recommended for men suffering from erectile dysfunction that has not improved with other less invasive treatments.

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Reasons for Getting a Penile Implant

There are several reasons why a man may opt to get a penile implant:

  • Severe erectile dysfunction that does not respond to medications like Viagra or Cialis
  • Inability to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse and satisfaction
  • Vascular disease resulting in decreased blood flow to the penis
  • Prostate cancer surgery that damaged the nerves or tissues involved in getting an erection
  • Severe pelvic trauma, especially common in wartime injuries
  • As a last resort when other therapies have failed
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The most common reason is serious cases of ED caused by vascular, neurogenic, drug-induced, or psychogenic causes. A penile implant provides a physical way to allow erections when other options do not work adequately.

Types of Penile Implants

There are two main types of penile implants:

Inflatable Implants

This type of implant consists of cylindrical tubes placed surgically in the penis, a fluid reservoir implanted under the abdominal wall, and a pump placed inside the scrotum. To achieve an erection, the man squeezes the pump in the scrotum to transfer fluid from the reservoir to the inflatable cylinders in the penis. This action will expand and rigidize the cylinders to allow for penetrative sexual intercourse. Once completed, the man presses a release valve to drain the fluid back into the reservoir and return the penis to a flaccid state.

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Inflatable implants provide the most natural-looking and feeling erections closest to a typical erection without ED.

Semirigid Rods

This type of implant consists of a pair of flexible, silicone rods that are surgically implanted into the erectile chambers of the penis. The rods keep the penis in a constantly rigid state that is movable into position for sexual intercourse. The implantation of semirigid rods may be less complex than inflatable implants. However, the lack of natural flaccidity of the penis can lead to complications like erosion through the skin.

Semirigid rod implants may be a choice for men with limited manual dexterity, who may have trouble operating the pump mechanism for inflatable implants.

How to Get a Penile Implant

Getting a penile implant involves consultation, surgical preparation, the procedure itself, and recovery:


The first step is to get a consultation with a qualified urologist who specializes in penile implant surgeries. The urologist will review your medical history, perform diagnostic tests to confirm you are a viable candidate, discuss various implant types and how they work, go over the risks and complications, set proper expectations about results, and answer any other questions. This process ensures you are fully informed before the surgery.

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Presurgical preparation involves getting various lab tests and exams completed, and using antibiotics and enemas to decrease infection risk. You will be instructed to cease taking certain medications that thin the blood prior to surgery. The morning of the surgery, the genital region is thoroughly cleaned.

The Surgery

The surgery is conducted under general anesthesia, typically taking about 1-2 hours. The urologist will make an incision to access the erectile chambers. The cylinders of the inflatable implant or rods of the semirigid implant are placed into position and the pump/release valve mechanism connected. The incisions are closed and a dressing applied.

Recovery Period

Post-surgery requires 2-3 days in the hospital for initial recovery and monitoring before you are discharged. Pain medications and antibiotics are given. Bruising and swelling is common for weeks after surgery. Sexual activity is restricted for 4-6 weeks to allow full internal healing. Regular follow-ups to check device functioning occur over the next several months.

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Proper surgical technique and patient aftercare greatly impact the device longevity and reduce complications.

Results After Getting a Penile Implant

For most men who undergo placement of a penile prosthesis, the results are quite satisfactory. Studies report 80-90% long-term success rates and high patient/partner satisfaction.

When used properly, the penile implants allow men to achieve erections sufficient for penetrative intercourse that are largely natural-feeling for both partners. Functionality can last 10-15 years before replacement is needed. Semirigid rods provide constant firmness which some partners may object to, while inflatable implants provide more discretion in social settings when flaccid positioning is desired rather than a permanent erection.

No penile implant restores the previous natural erectile function — rather it serves to provide mechanical stiffness that serves the same purpose. While orgasm can occur for implant recipients during sex, ejaculation may be lessened due to nerve damage already present. Penile sensation is usually not impacted but can be reduced rarely. For some men, using a penile implant results in a smaller erection than experienced previously.

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Results are impacted by proper surgical handling of tissues, the device type/model chosen, patient adherence to healing protocols, and reasonable expectations about outcomes. Even with high satisfaction rates amongst couples, there is always a risk that further ED therapies are needed if implants fail over time or complications cause removal. Realistic hopes regarding sensitivity, positioning, fluid control, and spontaneity contribute to better perceived results.

Risks and Complications

While improvements in penile implant designs and surgical techniques have greatly reduced adverse outcomes, there remains the possibility of risks occurring after implantation:

Infection: Swelling, redness, fluid buildup. May require complete removal. More common in diabetics.

Erosion through skin: Slow wearing away of tissues leads to protrusion. Removal surgery needed.

Implant breakdown/fluid leakage: Mechanical failures necessitate replacement.

Bleeding/blood clots: Collection of blood or clots inside penile chambers requires drainage.

Pain/Discomfort: Typically temporary as post-surgical swelling subsides.

Shortened penis: Fibrotic scarring makes the penis retract. Easier to treat earlier.

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Lack of sensation: Pre-existing nerve damage won’t be reversed.

Partner dissatisfaction: Dislikes loss of natural feel, model malfunction issues.

Psychological issues: Embarrassment, feeling less masculine due to device reliance.

Most adverse outcomes occur within the first year after surgery. Careful sterile protocols during initial surgery and during any revision surgeries help reduce complication rates. Properly educating patients on post-operative care, medication usage, activity restrictions, warning signs and maintaining realistic expectations is key to maximizing implant benefit. Being aware of the potential complications makes patients more likely to follow physician directions in the recovery period.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Important questions to ask your urologist when considering a penile implant include:

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  • Am I a good candidate for an implant surgically and psychologically?
  • What diagnostic tests or consults do you require beforehand?
  • Which type of implant do you recommend for my situation and why?
  • How many of these specific implants have you performed and what results did your patients achieve?
  • Can you walk me through all aspects of the surgery from start to finish?
  • What can I expect during my recovery in the hospital and once I go home?
  • Which medications will I need to take after the procedure? Are there activity limitations?
  • What are the risks and complication rates you have encountered with implants?
  • How will the implant affect erection firmness, position, ejaculation, orgasm and other sensitive issues?
  • What can my partner anticipate regarding the feel and use of the implant during sex?
  • How long should the device last before needing replacement?
  • Will I need occasional office visits or tests to check that the implant is still working fine?
  • What if I encounter issues with the implant in the future – what is the process for that?

Asking the surgeon extensive questions will clarify if getting a penile prosthesis is the most suitable option for your lifestyle needs and expectations. Being fully informed on all aspects of the implantation process and recovery allows men to have a great post-surgical experience.

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FAQs : How Do Penile Implants Work

How do penile implants work?

Penile implants, also known as penile prostheses, are medical devices surgically inserted into the penis to help men with erectile dysfunction (ED) achieve an erection. There are two main types: inflatable and semi-rigid (malleable). The inflatable type involves a pump placed in the scrotum and a fluid-filled reservoir in the abdomen; squeezing the pump transfers fluid to cylinders in the penis, causing an erection. The malleable type consists of bendable rods that allow manual adjustment of the penis to an erect or non-erect position.

Who might consider getting a penile implant?

Men who have erectile dysfunction that has not responded to other treatments, such as PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis), penile injections, or vacuum erection devices, might consider a penile implant. It is also an option for men with certain medical conditions, such as Peyronie’s disease, that cause ED.

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What are the differences between inflatable and malleable penile implants?

Inflatable penile implants provide a more natural-looking erection and better flaccidity when not in use compared to malleable implants. They require a fluid reservoir and pump mechanism, which requires some manual dexterity to use. Malleable implants, on the other hand, consist of bendable rods that can be manually positioned as needed. They are simpler and may be easier for men with limited hand strength or dexterity but offer less natural-looking results when flaccid.

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How long does the surgery take, and what is the recovery like?

Penile implant surgery typically takes about one hour and is usually done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time varies, with most men returning to normal activities within a week. However, full recovery, especially for sexual activity, may take 4 to 6 weeks. Pain and discomfort are common in the initial recovery phase but can be managed with medication.

Can a penile implant increase the size of the penis?

No, a penile implant does not increase the size of the penis. It is designed to help men achieve an erection and does not affect the length or girth of the penis. Expectations regarding size should be discussed with a surgeon before the procedure.

How does a penile implant affect sensation and orgasm?

Penile implants do not typically affect the sensation in the penis or the ability to achieve orgasm. The primary goal of the implant is to restore erectile function. Sensation, orgasm, and ejaculation (if they were normal before the surgery) are usually maintained after the implantation.

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What is the success rate of penile implant surgery?

The success rate of penile implant surgery is high, with satisfaction rates among men and their partners ranging from 85% to 95%. The definition of “success” includes both the mechanical reliability of the implants and patient satisfaction with the surgical outcome.

How long do penile implants last?

Penile implants are designed to be durable and can last for many years. On average, implants last between 10 to 15 years. Over time, they may need to be replaced due to normal wear or mechanical failure.

What are the risks associated with penile implant surgery?

As with any surgery, there are risks involved, including infection, implant malfunction, and problems with anesthesia. In rare cases, the implant may need to be removed due to severe infection or malfunction. Discussing these risks with a healthcare provider is crucial before deciding on surgery.

Can you feel a penile implant when it’s not in use?

In the case of inflatable implants, when not in use, the penis feels soft and natural. Malleable implants, however, may always have some degree of firmness, although they can be positioned closer to the body to be less noticeable under clothing.

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How do partners typically react to penile implants?

Partner satisfaction rates are also high, with many reporting improved sexual relationships after the implant. Open communication with one’s partner before and after the procedure is essential for setting realistic expectations and ensuring mutual satisfaction.

Is the cost of penile implant surgery covered by insurance?

In many cases, penile implant surgery is covered by insurance, including Medicare. Coverage can vary, so it’s important to check with your insurance provider to understand your policy’s specifics. Some policies may require documentation of medical necessity or prior failure of other ED treatments before covering implant surgery.

How does one choose the right type of penile implant?

Choosing the right type of penile implant involves discussions with a urologist or surgeon specializing in ED treatments. Factors to consider include medical history, lifestyle, personal preferences, and manual dexterity. The surgeon can help weigh the pros and cons of each type based on the individual’s specific situation.

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What preparation is required before penile implant surgery?

Preparation for penile implant surgery may include a physical examination, blood tests, and other preoperative assessments to ensure the patient is healthy enough for surgery. Patients may also be advised to stop certain medications or supplements that could increase the risk of bleeding.

Can penile implants be reversed or removed?

Yes, penile implants can be surgically removed if necessary. However, removal can lead to scar tissue formation and possibly a reduction in penis size or shape. It’s important to consider the long-term commitment before proceeding with implant surgery.

How do you maintain a penile implant?

Maintenance of a penile implant involves following the surgeon’s post-operative instructions, including how to operate the device, care for the surgical site, and recognize signs of infection or malfunction. Regular check-ups with the surgeon are also crucial for ensuring the implant remains functional and addressing any issues early.

Are there any lifestyle restrictions after getting a penile implant?

After a full recovery, there are typically no lifestyle restrictions related to a penile implant. Men are encouraged to return to their normal activities, including sexual activity, as advised by their surgeon.

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How do you initiate sex with a penile implant?

Initiating sex with an inflatable penile implant involves using the pump mechanism to achieve an erection. With a malleable implant, it involves manually adjusting the penis to the desired position. Communication with one’s partner is key to a satisfying sexual experience.

Can penile implants break during sex?

While penile implants are designed to be durable, there is a small risk of malfunction. However, breaking during sex is rare. If there are concerns about the implant’s function or integrity, consulting with the surgeon is advised.

What happens if a penile implant needs to be replaced?

If a penile implant needs to be replaced due to wear or malfunction, the procedure is similar to the initial surgery. The existing implant is removed, and a new one is inserted. Recovery and post-operative care are also similar to the first procedure.

How do you discuss getting a penile implant with your partner?

Discussing the decision to get a penile implant with your partner involves open and honest communication about erectile dysfunction and the options available. Sharing information about the procedure, potential benefits, and risks can help both partners feel more comfortable and involved in the decision-making process.

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