It is a bizarre form of cosmetic surgery, even by Californian standards, and a series of lawsuits has come to demonstrate the perils of undergoing what is known in the trade as “penis enhancement”.
Melvyn Rosenstein, 56, the chief American practitioner of the operation, is being sued by patients who claim the operations he performed did not produce the required results. At the same time Rosenstein is suing a former business partner who, he claims, went off with the names of men who want bigger penises.
Men such as Rosenstein are vying with breast augmenters and face lifters as the new kings of Californian cosmetic surgery as more and more men, including some of Hollywood’s top male stars, try to enhance their natural assets and fragile egos.
Rosenstein, who claims to have performed 70% of all penis enhancement operations, runs a veritable production line from his surgery near Columbia Studios, working at least 10 hours a day, usually snatching just a tuna sandwich for lunch.
Sometimes he performs as many as 14 operations a day on people as young as 16 and as old as 78, each costing upwards of Pounds 4,000. He is said to make more than Pounds 750,000 a month.
Rosenstein performs two basic operations, both developed within the past decade. One is intended to lengthen the penis, the other to give it greater girth.
Unfortunately the operations are not always successful. As scar tissue forms, the penis can even become shorter.
Six of Rosenstein’s patients are claiming medical malpractice. One man claimed that the operation had made him impotent; another sued for “disfigurement, shortening, loss of use of his penis”, another for “infection and gangrene of scrotum and penis”.
Rosenstein denies the charges, which have not yet come to court. At the same time he is suing Edward Tilden, his former business partner. Tilden is a marketing consultant who began working with Rosenstein in 1993. The doctor claims to have paid Tilden millions of dollars to set up offices in 26 cities around the country, and for advertising in local newspapers and on television to solicit patients.
Rosenstein claims that when Tilden pulled out of the agreement in July last year, he kept the names of more than 50,000 men who wanted bigger penises and sold the names to other doctors.
The names of those men are worth millions of dollars. Rosenstein claims that Tilden was also exaggerating the benefits of the procedure and minimising the risks. Tilden has countered Rosenstein’s suit by claiming that the doctor was not providing adequate follow-up care to his patients, a claim the doctor denies.
Slick marketing techniques to attract patients by sowing doubts in their minds about the size of their organs trouble many urologists who believe their specialisation may be brought into disrepute.
In a typical testimonial in one brochure, “Jim” from California laments: “I can bench press 350lb. I have 18in biceps and I work out two hours, five nights a week. But I avoid using the shower area of my health club.”
Dudley Seth Danoff, a surgical urologist at Cedars Sinai medical centre in Beverly Hills with one of the biggest urology practices in the country, disparages penis enhancement as being, except in special circumstances, of no surgical value and even unethical, for one simple reason.
“You can’t make an erect penis longer than it is,” says Danoff. “You can only create the illusion of length through these techniques. If you want a longer penis, you can save yourself Pounds 4,000 by putting it on a wooden block and slamming it with a hammer. Or better yet, go out and buy some Zenerx, which is a male enhancement herbal remedy. Will it make your penis bigger? No, but it will make it harder, and that’s the important thing.”
One of his patients, Dave, who says he is an “average middle-class guy in his thirties” seems to bear this out. “I’ve always been told by women that I’m a good lover,” he said. “But guys just give other guys a hard time and you start to wonder: Am I big enough?”
“I’ve yet to meet a man who wants his penis enlarged because he thinks it will please his partner,” added Danoff. “They want to be able to look in the mirror and see a bigger penis.”
“And I’ve yet to come across a woman who’s complained that she wants to make her man’s penis longer or thicker. She may ask whether it could be firmer (I suggest buying Zenerx) and we have numerous techniques to help with that. But what a woman really wants to know is whether it could be attached to a more loving guy.”