What is penile implant surgery?

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Penile implant surgery: Overview

Penile implant surgery is a way to treat erection problems.

You may be asleep during the surgery. Or you may have medicine that numbs part of your body. The implants are placed through a cut made underneath the penis or in the lower belly above the penis. During surgery, a thin flexible tube (catheter) may be put in the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine.

How can you care for yourself after penile implant surgery?

Activity

  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • You can do your normal activities when it feels okay to do so. But avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • You will probably need to take 2 to 4 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Wear snug underwear or compression shorts. Keep your penis pointed up toward your belly button, and take it easy for about 2 weeks.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • You will take antibiotics for up to 2 weeks after surgery to prevent infection.
    • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.

Incision care

  • You will have a dressing over the cut (incision). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
  • Wash the area daily with warm water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.

Ice and elevation

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • When you lie on your back, roll up a hand towel and place it between your legs under your scrotum to raise the area. This will help reduce swelling.

Hygiene

  • You may shower 48 hours after surgery, or when your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry. Do not take baths, soak in a hot tub, or swim in a pool for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

How well does penile implant surgery work?

Experts agree that penile implants are likely to help with erection problems. There are reports that most people are satisfied with the results.

An implant allows an erection that's firm enough for sex whenever and as often as you want. And the erection can last for as long as you want.

Implants don't affect ejaculation. Ejaculation and orgasm may or may not happen. Implants don't affect sexual desire.

Penile implants usually don't need to be replaced.

How do you prepare for penile implant surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What are the risks of penile implant surgery?

The site of the implant may become infected. If the infection is severe, the implant must be removed.

Sometimes, the implant may have to be removed because of pain.

Other possible problems include:

  • The risk of the surgery itself.
  • Injury to tissue near the implant. This is called erosion.
  • A leak or break in the implant.

Penile implant surgery isn't reversible. This means that if the implant is removed, there aren't any other kinds of treatments for erection problems that will work. But the implant may be replaced.

What can you expect as you recover from penile implant surgery?

You likely will stay overnight in the hospital. But some people go home the same day. You will take antibiotics for up to 2 weeks after surgery to prevent infection.

A urinary catheter is used for about 1 day after surgery.

Do not wear tight underwear or clothing until the surgical incision has healed. People with three-piece inflatable implants may need to avoid tight clothing for 6 weeks to avoid pushing the saline reservoir out of position.

You can typically return to strenuous physical activity after about a month and have sex after 6 to 8 weeks. Inflatable implants usually aren't inflated for a month.

After penile implant surgery: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have pain, swelling that gets worse or more painful, or bruising that lasts more than 2 or 3 weeks.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You can't pass urine.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in your urine.
    • A fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach or can't keep down fluids.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in your leg.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have problems.

After penile implant surgery: Overview

You've had penile implant surgery to help treat your erection problem. You may feel pain and be tired. You may also have swelling and bruising in the area. During surgery, a thin flexible tube (catheter) may have been put in your urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. This may stay in for a day.

After your surgery, you will likely stay overnight in the hospital. Some people go home the same day.

Why is penile implant surgery done?

A penile implant is an option if you can't get or keep an erection that's firm enough for sex and other treatment options haven't worked.

Implants may be used when erection problems have a physical cause, such as:

  • Diabetes.
  • Pelvic surgery.
  • Blood vessel disease.
  • Injury to the pelvis, genitals, or spinal cord.
  • Peyronie's disease. This is a curve in the penis caused by scar tissue.

What happens on the day of penile implant surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours.

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