Plastic surgeons this week raised red flags about a penis whitening fad in Thailand, dismissing the procedure as a phallic “fashion” with uncertain benefits and many risks.
Requiring the use of lasers, acid or chemicals, the latest craze in genital beautification can leave men with burns, scars, taut skin or the exact opposite of what they were after in the first place — a darker penis or a spotted one, experts said.
“I think it should not be done in a patient that doesn’t need it,” said Milanese plastic surgeon Massimiliano Brambilla, who specializes in genital procedures. “Most of the substances that are used to whiten ... are quite aggressive. Whitening is one of those things that I am very careful of.”
Earlier this month, a Bangkok clinic said 100 men a month were making use of its penis whitening service just six months after it started offering the procedure. The clinic charged about US$650 for five laser sessions.
According to global statistics produced by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), Thailand ranked 21st in terms of the number of cosmetic procedures performed in 2016. The data also showed a massive rise in genital beautification procedures globally.
Labiaplasty, which involves trimming the inner vaginal “lips” or labia minoria, was in 2016 by far the fastest growing surgery sector, with a 45 percent rise from 2015, the ISAPS said.
Genital whitening was not listed among the data, but industry experts say demand is growing.
“I think it’s linked to the pornographization of society,” said plastic surgeon Fabien Boucher from Lyon, France.
“What people see is ... a genital aesthetic that in my view is not realistic,” with sex organs shaved and otherwise manipulated to represent those of very young people — hairless, smooth and pink, he said.
It is normal for the privates to be more darkly colored than the rest of the skin, Boucher said.
“I do sex-change surgeries, constructing penises for female-to-male transformations, and these patients want exactly the opposite” of genital whitening — many opting for color-in tattoos, he added.
“A key defect of our penile reconstruction procedure is that we end up with white penises which are visibly not natural,” he said.
Another reason for the Thai trend is cultural. The Asia-Pacific region is a major market for skin lighteners.
Boucher said there has been little scientific research into the use of lasers and chemicals for penis-whitening, and no bleaching techniques or products have been developed uniquely for use in this sensitive area.
“The skin of the penis is different” to that of the face or body, for which the existing products were conceived, Boucher said. “It is a thin skin ... and we do not yet fully understand how it will react.”
The Thai Ministry of Public Health has also warned against the procedure, saying it might cause irritation or infection, and even presents a threat to sexual pleasure and reproduction.
“Honestly, I don’t think they should be doing it,” said Boucher, who said he would not perform the procedure until the science shows it is safe.
Brambilla said he has turned down about three whitening requests in his 15-year career.
“If the color is uniform, I really see no need, but even if there is a reason for intervention, such as an accident, the instruments that we have now to do it, they cannot guarantee first of all the satisfaction, secondly a realistic result and thirdly the safety of what you’re doing,” he said.
Meanwhile, penis enlargement in 2016 dropped by 28 percent, according to the ISAPS, likely due to the rise of new, less-invasive booster techniques.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”