Over the years, a wide array of materials have been used for testicular implants, including glass marbles, polyethylene, silicone, dacron, and Vitallium alloy. But it wasn’t until 1976 that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began reviewing the safety of the materials used for the implants. Internationally, silicone is the most common substance used for implants but in the US, silicone is banned because of its potential 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 man might want or need to have a testicular implant. Usually it is for cosmetic or psychological reasons to help give a man more confidence and to restore the symmetry of the testicles. Most men who go through with the procedure are generally satisfied with the results and experience improved self-esteem.
Testicular implants typically cost around $3,000
Testicular implants may also be performed in the following cases:
- Baby boys born without a testicle or with an undescended testicle
- Testicular cancer patients who have had their testicle removed
- Men who have suffered traumatic injury to the testicle
- Men with very small and/or a deformed testicle or a testicle that is non-functioning
- Men who have had testicular torsion
- Female-to-male transsexual people seeking a testicular prosthesis as part of their gender realignment surgery
The surgery involves the surgeon making a small incision in a discreet area and placing the saline-filled implants inside the scrotum. The look and feel of the implanted testicle is very realistic and has a normal appearance. The surgery can be done either as an outpatient or in a hospital setting with minimal anesthesia.
How much of the procedure is covered under insurance will depend on a man’s medical insurance policy and the reason for the surgery. Testicular implants typically cost around $3,000 (€2,560).
What to expect before the surgery
A urologist or plastic surgeon will need to evaluate several health factors before performing the surgery. A man’s overall health, healing capabilities (which can be affected by smoking, alcohol, and medications), and any prior scrotal surgeries will need to be taken into consideration. Several tests will also be conducted along with a general physical exam.
A testicular implant can lead to post-operative complications
The procedure usually lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. The surgical bandages remain on for a full 24 hours. Men will experience some discomfort from swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity in the scrotum in the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Most men should be able to resume normal non-strenuous activities within seven to 10 days.
As with any surgical procedure, a testicular implant can lead to post-operative complications. This includes infection (the most common), a hematoma or blood loss into the surrounding tissues, side effects of the anesthesia, and problems with the wound healing.
The decision to have a testicular implant requires careful consideration. A man should discuss the pros and cons of the procedure with their urologist or plastic surgeon before going ahead. Taking the time to review these factors will help a man make the best decision for himself.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.