Organ Lessons

Surgeon genital's warning: A penis-enlargement operation can leave you scarred, lumpy and--yikes!--smaller

The Mesa urologist is disgusted by the penile-enlargement sales pitch. Most women just don't care, he insists.

"Basically, you need a penis that's maybe an inch and a half in length, and that's all you need, because most women receive sexual satisfaction from clitoral contact," Chasin says.

Indeed, ask Masters and Johnson or Cosmopolitan or Psychology Today, the verdict is unanimous: Penis size doesn't matter to women.

Of course, there are exceptions, such as the infamous vignette in Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, in which Zelda Fitzgerald tells her husband, F. Scott, that his penis isn't big enough to satisfy her.

According to Hemingway, Fitzgerald told him: "Zelda said that the way I was built I could never make any woman happy and that was what upset her originally. She said it was a matter of measurements. I have never felt the same since she said that and I have to know truly."

Upon viewing Fitzgerald's proffered penis, Hemingway assured his friend he was okay and advised him to check out other specimens at the Louvre. But one is left with the impression that Fitzgerald will always doubt his virility.

And therapists say it takes just one such experience--whether in the bedroom or the locker room--to seal a man's insecurity.

In the Twenties, one spoke delicately about such subjeR>cts. But the Nineties are shaping up as the Decade of the Penis. It's impossible to escape penis references--from the media's overzealous coverage ofJohn Wayne Bobbitt to the Seinfeld shrinkage episode, in which George Costanza is caught fresh out of chilling water with his swimming trunks down.

All of this discussion of penises has made men more self-conscious, says Peter Lehman, a film professor at the University of Arizona and the author of Running Scared: Masculinity and the Representation of the Male Body. Lehman says that in most cases, men have nothing to worry about.

According to a study conducted last year at the San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center, only two of every 100 men have a penis of a "subnormal" size--fewer than 2.8 inches in length and fewer than 3.5inches in girth when erect.

Esquire magazine echoed Lehman's sentiment last year, dubbing the syndrome "phallomania"--"a blossoming, cultlike obsession with the male sexual organs that encompasses men who lengthen their penises with weights or pumps, men who lament their circumcisions and join support groups to restore their foreskins, men who have saline solution injected into their scrotums to enlarge them, men who subscribe to Penis Power Quarterly and men who use weight-and-pulley rigs to stretch their penises while in bed at night."

From the Caramoja tribe of northern Uganda to the sadus of India, ritualistic penis enlargement has been practiced around the world, Esquire reported.

And now, in the United States, too, thanks to practitioners like Melvyn Rosenstein, a urologist educated at NYU Medical School in the 1960s who had practiced for years in California before delving into the lucrative enlargement business.

Chasin and many of his colleagues disapprove of the widening and lengthening procedures employed by Rosenstein. In many cases, fat injected into the penis is reabsorbed into the body, and sometimes it leaves lumps.

As for the lengthening, Chasin says, "cutting the ligament basicalR>ly doesn't give you a bigger penis. It just changes what we used to call as kids: the angle of the dangle."

Often, the procedure causes the point where the penis is anchored to the abdominal wall to drop down into the fleshy scrotum, creating the impression of an even smaller penis. And, Chasin and his colleagues add, the lengthening procedure never adds length to an erection. It only creates the impression, in the flaccid state, of a longer shaft.

"He says that he's enlarging the penis, and that's a blatant lie. Period. There are operations that can be done to enlarge a penis. This isn't one of them," Chasin says.

What would lengthen a penis? Chasin tries to draw a diagram, then gives up and rips a sheet of paper from a notebook, rolls it into a tube, and pulls scissors from his pocket.

The only way to get real length, he says, slicing the tube in half, is to cut the penis, transplant tissue to make it longer, and insert an implant.

Of course, that also makes the patient impotent.

Kent, an amateur body builder from Phoenix, saw Melvyn Rosenstein's ad in a muscle magazine a year and a half ago. He spoke on the phone to a sales representative, who compared penis-enlargement surgery to tooth extraction.

Then he spoke to Rosenstein, who told him the surgery wasn't too invasive, that recovery time was short and that he'd have minimal scarring--just a one-inch incision.

Kent decided to go for the lengthening option, even though his penis was already six inches long. His girlfriend's first question: "Why?"

"I said, 'Well, it sounds pretty easy and I've got some extra money now; it seems like there's no drawback.'"

He flew to Culver City for the operation. When he arrived, Kent found that another doctor, not Rosenstein, would be performing the operation. (He declines to share the doctor's name on the advice of his attorney, because he is preparing to file a lawsuit against the Rosenstein Medical Group.)

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