Inflatable penile prostheses (or IPPs) are implanted medical devices used to restore erectile function in patients who are either impotent or unable to maintain a penetrating penis.
IPPs contain a pump, a reservoir, and two cylinders placed on either side of the penis and are not externally visible. When the patient wishes to achieve an erection, they compress the pump, which releases saline (salt water) from the reservoir into the cylinders. These devices do not obstruct or prevent normal ejaculation and urination, and do not change the sensation of the penis.
How are inflatable penile prostheses placed?
There are two primary methods for placing IPPs: infrapubically, which is inserted via a small incision above the penis, and penoscrotally, which is inserted through a small incision in the base of the penis and above the scrotum. There is also a third approach that is gaining traction called the sub-coronal approach.
While there is some debate about which method has greater efficacy, all techniques have been shown to result in high satisfaction rates with patients when placed by well-trained or dedicated penile implanters, usually members of SUPS.
Placement of the inflatable penile implant by a dedicated implanter can typically take under an hour and can be performed under local, spinal or general anesthetic, depending on the medical needs of the patient.
What is life like with an IPP?
For those patients that no longer want to roll the dice for an erection, a penile implant offers a physiologic penetrating penis 100% of the time when it is desired. Considering that untreated erectile dysfunction, or in situations where prescription medications prove ineffective, the penile tissue will continuously atrophy in length and girth, a successful penile implant procedure can represent a significant improvement in quality of life, physically and psychologically and stop any of the ongoing atrophy secondary to erectile dysfunction.
Patients who have successfully undergone IPP surgeries can resume regular physical and sexual activity following recovery, which can take between 3 and 6 weeks.
What is the average lifespan of an inflatable penile implant?
Most penile implants still function ten to fifteen years post-procedure. While the longevity varies based on the implant type and manufacturer, the annual failure rate for penile implants is typically less than 1-2%.