Rise and shine!

Posted on September 5, 2008. Filed under: Medical marketing, Sexual issues |

MIT computer scientist Dr. Scott Aaronson, in a post at Overcoming Bias, asked: Why do we, as a society, provide food stamps for the hungry but not sex stamps for the celibate?

Exhibiting a version of Godwin’s Law, the reader comments eventually deteriorated into a discussion of rape. Two anonymous commenters, the first an (I would guess) outraged feminist calling herself “Noir”, and the second a male chauvinist pig (as they were called in my day) using the clever nom de plume of “Anon”, argued over the plausibility of female-on-male rape. Anon’s eloquent pronouncement was: A woman forcing a man into sex is nigh-on physically impossible. She could of course violate him in various ways, but these mostly don’t even resemble sex. Retired urologist happened to be passing, and his shock at such ignorant effrontery caused him to wade in with the last comment in the thread. Alas, he was casting pearls before swine, as the readers showed no interest in his erudite remarks. Hence, the necessity for this fascinating post.  

F. Brantley Scott, MD  was a founder of American Medical Systems, whose first product was an artificial urinary sphincter. In 1973, he developed the inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP), after AMS purchased the patent rights from Dr. Barish Strauch. Unlike the clinical research that occurs with pharmaceuticals, the penile prosthesis could not undergo animal trials, because of the significant differences in penile anatomy between humans and other mammals. Instead, it underwent cadaver trials. Such was excellent for achieving appropriate design form and fit, but it hardly addressed reliability at all, down to the infrequency of the cadavers’ sexual activities. As a result, Dr. Scott and his colleagues had a goose that laid unreliable golden eggs requiring frequent replacement, all with no warranty coverage. Since the alternatives to the device were no sex at all, or a permanently rigid device, sales were brisk in spite of the complications. The point is, the IPP, when working, was deemed so wonderful by its recipients that many were willing to have multiple surgeries for repairs. And all for cash.

One of my most profound lessons about the value of a capitalist system occurred with the 1989 introduction of the Mentor Alpha-1 IPP, the first true competition for the AMS device, and offered with a lifetime warranty. The quality of the AMS device improved dramatically after that, such that today’s devices are excellent in most every regard, and covered by Medicare and many 3rd-party insurance plans. The IPP does not change the appearance of the penis, nor the sensation for the man or his partner, nor the occurrence of orgasm and ejaculation. What it does do is produce an erection on demand that remains erect for as long as the parties wish, without the pain and health implications of natural priapism.

Dr. Scott and his colleagues sold their company to Pfizer in 1985 in what was termed by the pharma giant a “pooling of interests transaction.” Translation: Scott et al made a fortune. So I’m sure you’ve seen all the publicity and marketing effort Pfizer put into these wonderful devices, right? Or is it more likely to say that this may be one of the first times you’ve ever heard of it? The lack of accurate publicity surounding the IPP will be the subject of an upcoming post.

In the meantime, as my surgical nurse used to say at the end of each IPP surgery, when the device was successfully inflated: “Things are looking up!”

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7 Responses to “Rise and shine!”

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That was a very old comment you posted to… the discussion had been over for a long time.

@Doug S.

Yes, it was. Anyone can come up with a marvelous blog post or comment concerning a living, vibrant, germane topic; it takes real talent to generate insight and entertainment from an apparently dead subject. You will continue to see evidence of my prodigy as you read each of my skillfully woven tales and gems of insight here at It’s Not Hard.

By the way, why were you reading a post about a very old comment when the discussion had been over for a long time?

Did you ever snip the tendon that supposedly gives an extra inch of length (which is unfortunately pointed more or less toward the floor)?

@burger flipper

Indeed, I transsected the suspensory ligament on almost every penile prosthesis operation I performed. To take full advantage of the “lengthening” aspect, one must also move some skin around to accommodate the length gained, such as the use of a z-plasty, which I did not do routinely. My purpose was to maintain the original length, not to add any. In so-called “lengthening surgery”, almost all the length gained is in the flaccid state: what I call a “locker-room penis”. There is very little change in the “bedroom penis”, with occasional notable exceptions.

This is good stuff. Glad I came across your link in the Overcoming Bias comments.

I still remember an article I read in Maxim, probably around 1999 or so, about penis enlargement mishaps (unevenly stuffing the member full of fat trying to add girth, etc.) I don’t know how sensationalized that story was (it obviously focused more on the fringe quacks). I like forward to getting the real skinny here.

Going back to the Overcoming Bias comment, you’re saying that if a woman were to somehow seize control of a patients’s IPP, she could plausibly rape him?

Is that that included in the list of possible side-effects?

>I still remember an article I read in Maxim, probably around 1999 or so, about penis enlargement mishaps (unevenly stuffing the member full of fat trying to add girth, etc.)

I remember reading somewhere that penis-thickening surgery uses skin from cadavers, is that true?

@Tom: you’re saying that if a woman were to somehow seize control of a patients’s IPP, she could plausibly rape him?

I’m not saying it’s plausible; I’m saying it’s a fact: tie him up, pump him up, jump on.

@Tom: penis-thickening surgery uses skin from cadavers, is that true?

Absolutely, usually cadaveric pericardial and dermal grafts. However, if you’ll look at the penile anatomy shown here, you’ll see that the erectile muscles of the shaft are completely separate from the head (glans). The typical girth enhancement gives a thick shaft with a head that appears undersized and floppy. Use of fat suctioned from the man’s own body heals in lumps. The man requesting such a procedure is signaling “beta male”, as Roissy in DC would say.


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    The director of the Sexual Medicine Center leaves penile implants behind, and launches a quest for knowledge about Artificial Intelligence, extended life, and the issues inside the health-care industry.

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