The oldest patient to receive a penile implant from Dr. Robert B. Simon was 97 years old. The man is perfectly content with the operation—but wishes that he had it done 30 years before.
Dr. Simon, a urologist with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, reports that 93 percent of men who have the operation are satisfied, and 90 percent of their partners. Whereas only 51 percent are satisfied with oral medications, and only 40 percent with injections. Implants, said Dr. Simon, “are a dependable, long-term solution.”
“Today,” he told a group of older men in Ridgewood last week, “nearly every man who has erectile dysfunction can be helped.”
Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, affects one in five men – over 30 million Americans. As for the causes, 90 percent are physical, 10 percent are psychological. Of men in their 30s, 30 percent are affected; 40 percent of those in their 40s; and so on.
Physical causes include diabetes, heart problems, pelvic surgery, medications, spinal injuries, and hormone imbalances.
To prevent ED, stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake, exercise, and relax with stress-management lessons.
- penile implants, which may work when other treatments, like drugs;
- fail injection therapy , which involves injecting medication directly into the base of the penis
- transurethral therapy causes blood vessels to relax (rarely used today) vacuum pumps oral medications, like Viagra, which are not effective in 30 percent of men life changes, like switching prescription medications.
- Penile implants have been used for over 30 years, with 25,000 a year being performed. Generally the operation is covered by insurance. An anesthetic is used for nerves below the waist. The operation is usually performed in hospitals, takes half an hour, and 95 percent of patients go home the same day.
A former patient, John, told the audience that he was 68 and had had the operation four years earlier. “I was scared. I never had surgery before. But it was the best decision I ever made.”
A one-inch cut is made under the scrotum, and a small round pump is installed.
Dr. Simon pointed out that the device can break or wear out, and might have to be replaced in 15-20 years. There’s also a slight risk of infection—in 1.5 percent of the operations.
Finally, some people have objected that the operation is not reversible.
“But why would you want to reverse it?” Dr. Simon asked.