Male-enhancement products that won't spice up your Valentine's Day.

Health and medicine explained.
Feb. 12 2009 6:53 AM

Growth Industry

Male-enhancement products that won't spice up your Valentine's Day.

Note: Some links in this article go to Web sites advertising the products and procedures described, including photographs. These sites might not be appropriate for viewing at the workplace.

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If length is what you're after, you'll have to endure the gruesome. For example, you may need Triple Augmentation Phalloplasty, which includes the suspensory ligament release and a nip and tuck elsewhere. Be aware that phalloplasty, a mostly made-up term referring to surgery to reshape the penis, is a bit of a new surgical discipline. That said, its practitioners already have their own society (the American Academy of Phalloplasty Surgeons), which in turn underwrites the International Phalloplasty Institute, and they hold conferences. They even have a manifesto that (guess what?) concludes that cosmetic penis surgery is a safe and medically accepted procedure. Best of all, they offer a course open to "all surgeons" to learn the techniques—a course that covers soup to nuts in just three days. If you do visit these Web sites, prepare to see photos of men sporting unusually vigorous moustaches.

The most radical approach to lengthening is pioneered by surgeons at the University of Belgrade. They simply unpack the penis, add a little rib, and sew him back up. Here is the method of Drs. S.V. Perovic and M.L.J. Djordjevic:

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The penis is completely disassembled into its anatomical parts; the glans cap [head] remains attached dorsally to the neurovascular bundle and ventrally to the urethra and corporal bodies. A space is created between glans cap and the tip of corpora cavernosa [the shaft]; this space is used to insert autologous cartilage previously harvested from the rib [yes, your rib], the space being measured beforehand when the corpora cavernosa are erect. The anatomical entities and inserted cartilage are joined together to form a longer penis.

See how simple that was? Those still interested should peruse the accompanying pictures (you may need to click the link twice to open it) and illustrations before booking a ticket to Belgrade.

Maybe surgery isn't ready for prime time, at least for most people, and the pills don't work, and the thought of tying a stone to the head of your penis seems Neanderthal. But do not let hope perish—the dream must never die. There's plenty of good news in the field (OK, not that much). Important research is being done even as we speak. In Thailand, scientists are working long hours, sometimes in difficult circumstances, with a single goal in mind: to elongate the penises of rats. Yes, friends, a technique to enhance our rodent neighbors may be only years away. The approach is so elegantly simple: The investigators inject cells from the small intestine of pigs into the rat penis (of course!), and, bingo, those lucky rats have the biggest members in their colony. But, guys, until this research has matured a bit more, may I suggest that this Valentine's Day you show up with the usual—flowers and chocolates—and keep the big news on well-hung rats to yourself.

Kent Sepkowitz is a physician in New York City who writes about medicine.