Binh Dan Hospital's doctors perform surgery on a man to treat complications caused by the injection of liquid silicone into his penis. PHOTO COURTESY OF BINH DAN HOSPITAL
Ho Chi Minh City doctors have recorded a sharp rise in the number of men hospitalized with complications arising from having injected liquid silicone into their penises to increase their size.
According to doctors with Binh Dan Hospital's male sexual health department, more than 40 cases have been admitted to the city's major hospital since the beginning of this year, while previously there had been only one or two cases each year.
Most of the patients' penises had become swollen, bruised, distorted by silicone clots, and were in the process of necrosis, the doctors said.
Other complications included bent penises, and the tissues that came in contact with syringes becoming hard and thick.
At least four people were hospitalized with infected penises, scrotums, and pubic hair, they said.
Mai Tien Dung, head of the male sexual health department, told Thanh Nien that they have undertaken a study on the penile enhancement practice and planned to announce their findings at an upcoming conference.
Their study found that the patients, ranging in age from 18-56, came from various backgrounds, from fishermen to businessmen and teachers.
Asked why they wanted to enhance their penis, 70 percent of surveyed patients said they had been "encouraged" by friends to do so.
They said their friends told them that bigger and longer penises will help satisfy their partners, and thus maintain happy relationships, but such advice was mostly given under the influence of alcohol, Dung said.
Meanwhile, 19 percent said they believed a bigger penis would help them treat premature ejaculation, and four percent believed that it would treat erectile dysfunction.
However, these two disorders are unrelated to penis size, according to the doctors.
The rest of surveyed patients wanted to enhance their penis because they felt unconfident about its size, even though their doctors assured them that their penises were not abnormal, the study found.
Indeed, most of women who sent their husbands to the hospital with complications caused by the enhancement practice told the doctors that their penises were fine as they were.
Dung said most men felt their penises would shrink and weaken as they aged and/or became overweight.
In reality however, their penises' size was "totally normal," and their sexual problems were mostly related to erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure and diabetes, he said.
On the other hand, speaking to Thanh Nien, many doctors specializing in male sexual health said local beauty salons have recently asked them to help increase their customers' penis size via surgery, as the demand was rising.
However, most of them refused the offer, because such surgeries are not easy to perform and not suitable for everyone.
Nguyen Thanh Nhu, one of the country's leading doctors specializing in male sexual health, said there are two kinds of penis enhancement surgeries one to to increase the length and one to increase the width but that not many international studies on such surgeries are available.
He said lengthening surgeries are more common outside Vietnam, especially in the US.
According to international scientific reports, it is possible to make a penis three-four centimeters longer when erect, he said. However, he added that reports had been presented "superficially" at conferences, with the authors expressing fear that surgery techniques would be abused.
Nhu himself also announced a technique of lengthening a penis by another two-four centimeters at a national conference five years ago.
Furthermore, penile enlargement techniques have yet to be officially reviewed, documented or endorsed by the international medical community, Nhu said.
Men inject themselves with liquid silicone and have their body fat implanted to make their penis bigger, but these practices cause lots of complications, the expert said, adding that these practices' complications were first recorded in Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Liquid silicone was prohibited worldwide from being used in cosmetic techniques decades ago, as it can lead to serious complications, according to doctors.
They also warned that several unlicensed beauty salons in Vietnam offer injections of fluid into the penis, charging customers US$150/ml for the procedure.
Although the fluid, which disappears after two years, is not as dangerous as liquid silicone, it still carries fatal threats, because if injected into blood vessels, it can form deadly blood clots, doctors said.
Doctors said the average Vietnamese penis is about the same size as those of men in other countries.
Nhu said when erect, the average Vietnamese penis is between 11.2-13 centimeters long, compared to the 12.9-15 centimeters for the average American. He said for Asians, a penis is considered short when it's less than 7.8 centimeters long when erect.
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