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What is Phalloplasty?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Phalloplasty is a reconstructive or cosmetic surgical procedure involving the penis. It can be done to rebuild a penis after a traumatic injury, to construct one for a patient who has a genital malformation, and to enhance the appearance of the genitalia. It is also used in procedures for transsexual men who decide to pursue genital reconstruction surgery to build a penis and testes. This procedure is usually performed by a plastic surgeon and the doctor may specialize in surgeries involving the genitals. For all procedures, the patient is under general anesthesia.

In surgeries where a doctor is building a penis from scratch or rebuilding a damaged organ, grafts of skin and tissue are used to create a new organ. The size may vary, depending on the material available for grafting and preferences expressed by the patient. The patient's urethra is extended to reach all the way through the penis, and the doctor may use implants to support the structure, or not, depending on the procedure. Testes can also be created and fitted with implants if they are required.

Genital reconstructive surgery in transsexual patients can also include removal of the uterus and ovaries, if this has not already been performed. Tissue from the vaginal vault and labia can be used for grafting and the surgeon will also work to maintain the sensitivity of the patient's genital tissue to allow the patient to experience arousal. Surgical outcomes vary, depending on the surgeon's level of experience and skill. Many patients seek reviews from prior clients to see if they were satisfied with their surgical results.

Procedures to repair damage to the penis can also be performed in a phalloplasty. Severe infections, as well as physical trauma may disrupt appearance and cause distress for the patient. In a phalloplasty, tools like skin grafting can be used to normalize the penis, as well as restoring function in cases where the urethra or other structures have been damaged. For some patients who experience erectile dysfunction, implants may be used to allow them to achieve erections.

Some men opt for phalloplasty because they are dissatisfied with the aesthetic appearance of the penis. This can include reconstructing the foreskin in men who have been circumcised or performing surgical enlargement for men who would like to increase the size of their genitalia. These phalloplasty procedures are usually not covered by insurance as they are elective and not necessary for health or physical function.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon327688 — On Mar 29, 2013

As an FTM pre-surgery, is there a phalloplastic surgery that allows the newly crafted penis to become erect on its own, and function like a normal penis, without the use of any inflation devices?

By serenesurface — On Mar 26, 2012

I have a congenital abnormality with my testicles. It's been there since birth and it has always bothered me.

I'm interested in having phalloplasty to have the abnormality fixed. I've looked into a couple of doctors but have not made a decisions yet.

Has anyone had a similar phalloplasty surgery recently? Can you tell me a little about your phalloplasty before and after? Did you have to prepare in any way before surgery? How was your experience, pain management etc, post-surgery?

I would really love to hear from those who have gone through this.

By burcidi — On Mar 25, 2012

@turkay1-- I know someone who had this surgery too and it was pretty painful for him post-op. He said he was in agonizing pain for the first two weeks, especially right after the anesthesia wore off. I don't know if it would be the same for everyone though, since the operation can vary a lot.

But he's not regretful at all like your friend. He said if he had to do it all over again, he would because he's really happy with the results. It probably has to do with the skills of the phalloplasty surgeons too.

I'm pretty neutral on this subject. It's a personal preference. And whether it's for cosmetic reasons or health reasons, we can't tell people what to do with their body. If it makes them happy, why not?

And let's not forget about those who are undergoing a sex change. For them, it's a really important issue. There was a transexual talking about this on TV once. He said that before phalloplasty his body did not match his emotions and personality. When it finally did, he felt complete and very confident about himself.

So even though phalloplasty might not always carry a health related significance, it can carry an emotional and psychological significance for the people who have it.

By candyquilt — On Mar 25, 2012
I think there are a lot of guys who would want to get phalloplasty for penis enhancement, but it's pretty expensive. Phalloplasty, especially penile enlargement, seems like a business to me. I'm sure there are a considerable number of people who need it because of injuries and illness. But it seems to me that the majority want it for purely visual aspects and enhanced sexual activity.

We have a guy on our softball team who had phalloplasty several years ago. He's a really honest guy and he actually told me and a couple of other people that his partner is not happy with the surgery. It was completely his decision, and because of the size of his penis now, it's apparently problematic and painful for his partner during intercourse.

I personally would not opt for phalloplasty. I have respect for people who do. But I think this is a matter of confidence. Women don't necessarily want partners with very large genitals. If there is a malformation or something like that going on, that's different. But if your genitals are healthy and work fine, I don't think you need penile enlargement surgery.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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