Thu, Jul 14, 2011 - Page 13 News List

What would you do to become a genital giant?

With the market for quick-fix male enhancement procedures booming, one man reveals the dangers of visiting unlicensed practitioners

By Matthew Barbour  /  The Guardian, LONDON

Rune Olsen, Deer Threesome (2008).

Photo: Bloomberg

When it comes to our bodies, we are obsessed with the quick fix. Whatever your problem, the Internet is filled with promises of cheap and — supposedly — painless solutions. In 2009, 1.1 million non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed, and this March, Superdrug became the first high-street retailer in the UK to offer budget anti-wrinkle injections, derma-fillers and other treatments normally the preserve of private clinics.

Companies such as Superdrug employ doctors and dentists to run their clinics. But in a growing industry that successive governments have failed to regulate, not everyone else is so responsible. According to Fazel Fatah, consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons: “The notion of what people call aesthetic treatments has been developed around various injectables and non-invasive procedures. This has allowed people with no surgical medical training to establish a practice and make easy money with little if any thought as to the patient’s well-being. The availability of drugs on the Internet without prescriptions is feeding into what is actually a completely unregulated practice.”

The organization is particularly worried about backstreet procedures for men seeking genital enhancement. It says it has evidence of a number of Web sites promoting the use of silicone injections into scrotums and penises — unlicensed treatments performed by medically unqualified practitioners that can result in serious medical problems.

Jim Horton certainly wishes he had heard this warning earlier. The 50-year-old aircraft engineer underwent one such procedure in 2007. “I’ve always had quite a tight scrotum and heard through various online chat sites that I could get it made bigger,” he says. “Everyone who’d had it done seemed to say they were really happy with the results, so I e-mailed the guy who I was told was carrying it out and arranged to see him. He sent me details of what would happen. It all seemed very professional and above-board.”

It was only when he arrived for his appointment that Jim began to worry. “I thought there’d be some kind of surgery inside — but it was nothing more than a normal house,” he says. “The man I went to meet said he worked on North Sea oil rigs, but he seemed very calm and confident and he told me that he’d done this to more than 90 other men, as well as having had silicone injected into his own penis and scrotum. I trusted him and went upstairs.”

But after Jim had showered and was lying on the bed, waiting to be injected, things got worse. “I noticed the silicone was kept in an open milk bottle on the side — and this guy put the syringe full of the silicone into a regular sealant gun you’d buy from a DIY store. He said he needed to apply extra pressure as the fluid was so thick, but by now I was in his hands and went along with it.”

Over the next 30 minutes Jim had 60ml of silicone injected in each side of his scrotum. Afterwards, he got dressed and handed over £120 (US$190). “I felt fine and my scrotum looked and felt better. I was happy with what I’d paid for,” he says.

However, by Christmas he noticed that the injected areas had started to harden and become misshapen. “I called the guy who did it, asking if this was normal, and he just said ‘bad luck’ and hung up on me. I suddenly felt so stupid and angry for having put myself in this position. I didn’t know who to turn to.”

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