Warning: The story we are about to tell may not be suitable for the weak-stomached, but if you or someone you know is considering this type of procedure it would be wise to know the risks involved.
The following story is based on the testimony of a man suing the doctors who attempted to give him a penis enlargement procedure as reported by Sankei Shimbun. The man is not identified, so Sankei used the pseudonym of Tanaka, a common surname in Japan.
■ 10 for the price of five
Twenty years ago, Tanaka had a circumcision performed to correct a condition known as phimosis, in which the foreskin is not able to pull back from the head of the penis. The procedure was a success and Tanaka experienced no complications. However, now in his 40s, he felt self-conscious about the way it looked and was curious about ways to improve it.
After checking on the internet he found a clinic in downtown Osaka that offered “counseling” for penis enhancements. In June of 2014 he visited the clinic and spoke with the counselor who explained the enlargement was done by injecting the head of the penis with a substance called “filler.”
Tanaka asked,”How many injections would I need to make it bigger?”
“Probably about three to five, but some people aren’t satisfied with that,” replied the counselor who wasted no time adding that if he really wanted results, “normally one injection costs 100,000 yen (about US$1,000) but if you get it done today, you can get 10 injections for the price of five.”
Tanaka was unable to pass up the half-price offer and agreed to get the injections done on that day paying a fee of 500,000 yen (about $5,000) for ten shots of filler. When it was done, Tanaka left the clinic with his groin still under the effects of the anesthesia. He felt no discomfort and even noticed a slight improvement in the size.
However, it didn’t take long for things to go horrifically wrong.
Before continuing, let’s take a moment to learn about the “filler” that Tanaka’s counselor was talking about. There are several different types of filler injections used in cosmetic treatments which act to tighten skin and keep it in its desired youthful shape. Tanaka’s filler used hyaluronic acid, which, under normal circumstances, gradually gets broken down and absorbed into the body.
However, in the case of enlarging a penis, the filler contains other components which block the absorption. According to the president of the Japan Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, these added compounds have been known to interfere with blood flow, but it is unclear whether the reason is the substances themselves or the way they are administered.
If tissue cannot receive blood then it is at risk of necrosis, which is the death of the cells that make up the tissue in question. When necrosis occurs there are very few options and amputation or surgical removal of the dead tissue is usually necessary.
▼ The bottom left shows a cell go into necrosis, a type of self-destruction caused by a variety of factors such as lack of blood flow.
It is difficult to know the cause of the blood flow issues partly because there is no regulation of these kinds of filler injections in Japan. They are simply ordered by the doctors themselves from other countries without any oversight.
■ Wait and see
It wasn’t long after arriving home that Tanaka began to feel discomfort in his genitals. It began as an uncomfortable pressure that grew steadily. Naturally concerned, he went back to the clinic for help.
At this point, the testimonies of Tanaka and the doctors conflict.
According to Tanaka, he was not told of any risks beforehand and when visiting the second time, they simply gave him some topical cream to use. The doctors, however, claim that they did tell him about possible blood flow issues, and that when he came a second time they offered to remove the filler. They also say that he declined and the he would “wait and see.”
Whatever the case, Tanaka left with only a bit of cream and no signs of improvement. The discomfort grew into pain and his penis was beginning to swell and turn a dark red color. When the pain got so intense he couldn’t sleep, he turned to the internet for people who had experienced the same symptoms and found a disturbingly surprising amount.
Tanaka’s stomach sank to see that most of them said the same thing.
By the time he arrived at a regular hospital a leathery scab was covering one side of the head of his penis and he was unable to urinate. As he suspected, Tanaka was diagnosed with a fourth grade cutaneous ulcer which meant that gangrene had taken over a part of his penis. His only option was to get the necrotic tissue surgically removed from it.
■ A constant reminder
Following the operation Tanaka fought hard against a crippling depression and the desire to take his own life. Due to the circumstances of the incident he couldn’t even turn to family or friends for consolation. He was on his own and resigned to the fact that he would never be with a woman again.
Because a considerable portion of his penis had been surgically removed, it was, at that point, smaller than when everything began, but that was the least of his problems. It was now so deformed that he could barely stand the sight of it, let alone expose it in places like a public bath.
The end of Tanaka’s urethra had also become exposed. This means that when he goes to urinate he cannot control where it goes and it splatters all over. Standing up to pee or using a public urinal are not longer options for him. However, the worst part of all was that the exposed tip of his urethra would cause the “discomfort” resulting from his exposed urethra rubbing against his clothing every single time he moved around.
Image: Wikipedia/Hiroh Satoh
This meant that Tanaka could never spend less than a moment of his life not thinking about the condition of his penis. For example, while playing his favorite pastime golf, he could be okay while taking a swing but the moment he started to walk to the next shot that discomfort would return. It was a constant reminder of what happened, ensuring that he would never feel normal for the rest of his life.
■ More common than you would think
Following the removal surgery, Tanaka went to the clinic that injected the filler but found that it had suddenly closed up. Eventually he was able to track down the doctors involved and is now involved in a lawsuit against them for 70,000,000 yen (about $700,500).
Although this may sound like a shocking case of medical malpractice, the truly frightening revelation is that it is more common than you might think. Remember that when Tanaka was suffering from gangrene, he was able to find numerous other people who had experienced the same problems online.
The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan cited another instance where a man seeking phimosis treatment was advised to get filler injections so that “the condition would not return” afterward. He agreed, and after paying 2,000,000 yen ($20,000) for the circumcision and filler injections he developed the same gangrene that Tanaka had.
They also pointed out that the same clinic had “counseled” over 1,000 men in the past five years. These “counseling sessions” would sometimes go for hours if the guests were reluctant to sign up. About one-third of those men were advised to get same-day procedures and agreed. Among them, 40 percent reported some sort of painful complication as a result.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Stethescopes (edited by RocketNews24)
And that is only for one clinic in the entire country of Japan, not to mention the world. There is a dark industry out there preying upon the insecurities of men and relying on those men’s feelings of shame to not take them to task for their irresponsible practices.
Tanaka testified during his lawsuit that he regrets most of all not taking the proper time to research these treatments and their inherent risks himself before getting pressured into a same-day injection. It was a rash decision and he’s since been wallowing in a regret deep enough to push most people over the edge.
But with a typical Kansai hard-headed positivity he pushes on, saying “I’ve been through a hell of an ordeal. Anyone considering this kind of surgery, don’t rush into it lightly.” And in doing so he is bringing this problem into the light where hopefully it can be dealt with before more people get hurt.