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The Long and Short of Penile Enlargement Procedures

From pills and potions to weights, pumps and other devices, penis enlargement is one of the biggest games in town. But who really needs these treatments? And do they actually work?

The Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery has the answers to all of your questions.

Am I too small?

The short of it: Probably not.

The long of it: If you think your penis is too small, the problem may be in your head. Many men only think that their penises are smaller than other guys'. Research shows that many men don't know what a "normal" size penis is anyway. The average penis measures between three and five inches when flaccid, and between five and seven inches when erect, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A penis is considered abnormally small only if it measures less than three inches when erect. This is called micropenis.

Do penis-enlarging pills, potions and lotions actually work?

The short of it: Save your money.

The long of it: The consensus is that none of these work in a meaningful fashion. Don't confuse penis enlargement treatments with erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments. Drugs that treat ED such as Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis), Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn) and Avanafil (Stendra) can help men achieve and maintain an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse. They cannot, however, add length or girth to the penis.

What about pumps?

The short of it: Pumps help… for a minute or two.

The long of it: Vacuum pumps can help treat ED, and are also advertised for penis enlargement. The penis does increase in size, but only for a short time when using these devices. A hollow tube is placed over the penis and a battery-operated pump sucks out the air inside the tube, creating a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis and causes an erection.

Is surgery an option for penis enlargement?

The short of it: Maybe.

The long of it: Penis enlargement surgery can add slightly more than one inch. In general, the surgeon cuts the ligaments that hold the penis in its usual position, allowing it to descend. Weights or stretching devices are often used for a few months to help these enhancements last.

Penile implants are another — albeit controversial — option to increase the girth of the penis. These are comprised of implanted fat, silicone or tissue grafts.

Caution: transplanting fat cells from other parts of the body to the penis is considered an experimental and high-risk procedure. There currently is insufficient data to establish its safety and effectiveness, according the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Does weight loss have a role?

The short of it: Yes it does.

The long of it: You can add 'penis enlargement' to the list of benefits associated with weight loss. Dropping excess weight can allow the penis to look bigger. The weight loss can help expose the hidden shaft that's buried beneath belly fat. It is a bit of an optical illusion, but it can help make men feel better about their size — not to mention all of the other health benefits.

What is jelqing?

The short of it: Repetitive penile massage

The long of it: This is the term for exercises that push blood from the base to the head of the penis. You squeeze and stroke your penis in an effort to force blood flow to the tip, potentially stretching length and girth. It is not harmful, and is very similar to masturbation. That said, there is no evidence that jelqing will increase the size or girth of the penis.

Do I need a penile stretching device?

The short of it: Probably not.

The long of it: A stretcher or extender device exerts traction. When worn for six hours a day for at least six months, a penile extender may improve curvature, which makes the penis seem longer. These can also be helpful after penis enlargement surgery.

How much does penile enlargement cost?

The short of it: Cost varies by procedure.

The long of it: Pills and potions may be inexpensive, but surgery can cost $14,500 dollars and up. Insurance does not cover the cost of procedures that are considered cosmetic, and in most cases, penile enlargement is not deemed medically necessary. Financing plans may be available.