Erectile Dysfunction Treatments Surgical Methods

Surgery is considered a last resort for erectile dysfunction. While surgery helps some men achieve erections, the male anatomy is complex, and any surgery or trauma to the genitals can result in nerve damage, which may worsen erectile dysfunction. If medication or therapy fails, or if physical abnormalities cause the impotence, then surgery becomes a possibility.

Penis Implant Surgery

Of the various surgical procedures available, penis implant surgery has the best chance of relieving impotence. Mechanical devices are inserted directly into the penis. Side effects may include implant breakdown, although current implants are usually quite reliable. Infection is a more serious concern, and may require the immediate removal of the device.

Two distinct types of implants, or prostheses, are available. Flexible twin rods are inserted into the corpora cavernosa, the two spongy chambers that run the length of the penis and trap the blood necessary for erections. The man may then manipulate his penis into the position he needs. This type of surgery leaves the penis with a somewhat unnatural appearance. It does nothing to increase the length or width of the penis, but sexual intercourse is possible.

Inflatable prostheses are more complicated and carry a higher risk of mechanical malfunction. However, the penis looks more natural, and some increase in size is possible. Instead of rods, two inflatable cylinders are inserted. These cylinders are connected by tubes to a fluid container and a small pump, both of which are also surgically implanted. By manipulating the pump, the man forces the fluid into the penile canisters, creating an erection.

Some men have trouble accepting the changes to the male anatomy that accompany implants. The pump for the inflatable model, for example, is inserted under the skin of the scrotum. Some men’s sexual partners also have a difficult time accepting physical changes caused by implants. A health professional should discuss all the advantages and disadvantages with both partners before starting on this course.

Vascular Surgery

Problems with penile blood flow can also be corrected with surgery. However, the science of vascular penis surgery is only in the early stages of development, and only a small percentage of men benefit from the procedure. The risks of potential nerve damage caused by the surgery must also be considered.

Surgical artery repair can remove obstructions that prevent proper blood flow to the penis. The procedure works best when the obstruction is a minor blockage caused by pelvic injury. Young men have the best chances of benefiting from the surgery. Older men, who often have larger, more complicated blockages, experience much lower success rates.

Another form of vascular surgery is performed on the veins that lead out of the penis. The veins are intentionally obstructed, preventing blood from prematurely leaking out and reducing erection time. These artificial obstructions may lose their ability to store blood over time.

Nerve Damage: A Potential Risk

The penis is one of the most complicated areas of the male anatomy. It is a mixture of muscle, spongy tissue, veins, arteries and nerve cells. Even surgery designed to improve erection capability carries the risk of nerve damage or other trauma to the surrounding area. Surgical trauma can cause erectile dysfunction, a consideration that should be discussed with your surgeon before any surgical procedure.


Wells, K. R. (2001). Impotence. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Retrieved September 25, 2002, from ml?term=impotence.