Testicular implants: What men should know

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Testicular implants: What men should know

Since 1941, testicular implants have been produced and performed for many reasons.  From injury to the testicles to testicular cancer, the absence of a testicle has been shown to be a psychologically traumatic experience for males of all ages.

Over the years, there has been a wide array of materials used for the implants which have included glass marbles, polyethylene, silicone, dacron, and Vitallium alloy.  It wasn’t until 1976 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got involved in reviewing the safety of the materials used for testicular implants.  Around the world the most common substance used for the manufacture of these implants is silicone; however in the US, silicone is banned because of theoretical health risks.  Today, the only testicular implant approved for use by the FDA is a saline filled implant, similar to what is used for breast implants.

Reasons for testicular implants

There are many reasons why a male would want or need to have a testicular implant.  Usually the request for an implant is for cosmetic or psychological reasons helping to give a man more confidence and to restore symmetry of the testicles.  The majority of men who do decide to have this procedure are generally satisfied with the results improving their self-esteem in the appearance of their testicles. 

Other reasons why testicular implants are performed include the following:

·      Baby boys born without a testicle or with an undescended testicle

·      Testicular cancer where the testicle is removed

·      Traumatic injury to the testicle

·      Men with very small and/or a deformed testicle or a testicle that is nonfunctioning

·      Men who have had testicular torsion

·      Female-to-male trans-sexuals seeking a testicular prosthesis as part of their gender re-alignment surgery

The surgery involves the surgeon making a small incision in a discrete area placing the saline-filled implants inside the scrotum. The look and feel of the implanted testicle is very realistic with a normal appearance.  Surgeries to perform a testicular implant can be done either as an outpatient or in a hospital setting with minimal anesthesia.

Depending on a man’s medical insurance coverage and the reason for this procedure, will determine what amount of the cost is covered.  Typically, testicular implants cost approximately $3000.

Before the surgery – what to expect

A urologist or plastic surgeon will need to evaluate several factors of a man’s health before performing the surgery.  A man’s overall health, their healing capabilities (which can be affected by smoking, alcohol, and medications), and any prior scrotal surgeries will need to be taken into consideration.  There will also be several tests conducted including blood and urine samples along with a general physical exam.    

The procedure usually lasts between 30 minutes to one hour with the surgical bandages staying on for a full 24 hours.  Men will experience some discomfort of swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity of the scrotum during the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Most men should be able to resume normal non-strenuous activities within 7 to 10 days.  

Complications of testicular implants

Like with any surgical procedure, there can be post-operative complications of a testicular implant.  These can include infection (the most common), a hematoma or blood loss into the surrounding tissues, side effects of the anesthesia, and poor wound healing. 

The decision to have a testicular implant needs careful consideration with a thorough discussion with a urologist or plastic surgeon of the pros and cons of the procedure and outcome.  By taking the time to review these factors, this will help a man make the best decision for him.