Skip Navigation

Surgery to Permanently Treat Erectile Dysfunction

December 18, 2023

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is common, and the risk of having erectile dysfunction increases with age. In the United States, it’s estimated that up to 40% of men by the age of 40 and 70% of men by the age of 80 have experienced some form of erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is not a trivial health concern. It can have a significant impact on quality of life, not just for the patient, but also for the partner. Outside of decreasing penetrative sexual experiences, erectile dysfunction can lead to decreased intimacy and relationship issues in addition to causing anxiety, depression and loss of self-esteem. Too often this can cause partners of men with erectile dysfunction to feel at fault, which only magnifies the issues.

There are numerous causes of erectile dysfunction. Common causes include medical conditions like having obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Medical treatments, such as certain cancer therapies, may also lead to erectile dysfunction. Occasionally medications can inhibit natural erections, as can hormone abnormalities like low testosterone. Sometimes treating these other conditions may improve erectile function. In some cases, additional treatment for erectile dysfunction is still needed.

Treatment options for erectile dysfunction include pills, vacuum pumps, penile injections and urethral suppository medications. One that may not be top-of-mind for some men is erectile dysfunction surgery to have a penile implant placed. While some forms of treatment work better than others, the implant does offer a permanent treatment for almost every type of erectile dysfunction. However, you may have questions. Some of the most asked ones are answered below.

Frequently asked questions

  • Surgery in the appropriately selected patient is safe with a high satisfaction rate (over 93%).

  • It’s a surgery, and it’s permanent. Some people would rather stop having intercourse than think about having a procedure to fix their erectile dysfunction. Others view this similarly to a joint replacement. They have lost functionality and/or use of their penis, like losing the function of a shoulder, hip or knee. At the end of the day, it’s a value judgment. While surgery does have some risks, the question to ask yourself is, “How important is having intercourse to my sex life and overall quality of life?” If it’s important, then the minimal risks of the procedure are often well worth it.

  • One of the biggest surprises around erectile dysfunction is that the implant device predates all the medications. The implant has been around for several decades, and many don’t even know it’s an option to help cure their erectile dysfunction or that it is FDA-approved.

  • While inflatable penile prosthetic devices have been around for more than 4 decades, the devices and techniques have undergone numerous changes. Techniques have evolved into more minimally invasive procedures allowing for fewer complications, faster recovery and quicker use of the device. Devices have been improved to have smaller anatomic footprints (less bulky in the scrotum and abdomen), last longer and allow for easier use.

  • Success is the reproducible ability to have a penetration-quality erection lasting as long as the couple would like. Unlike other therapies, the implant is a 0-100 solution. Either the device functions properly, and you will have a reliable erection that lasts as long as you desire, or the device has malfunctioned and warrants replacement. However, device malfunction rates are low. More than 90% of devices last 5 years and 85% of devices last 10 years without malfunctioning.

  • Our erectile dysfunction surgeons are all prosthetic experts who have fellowship training for either male reconstruction or device implantation surgery. In addition, each provider has a team designed to help shepherd patients through this process from initial consultation to the day of surgery, to activation of the device and beyond. While any urologist can perform the surgery, it’s been shown that experienced surgeons have fewer complications and revision surgeries compared to urologists who do not regularly perform the procedure.

  • Absolutely to both! Men are encouraged to bring their significant other if they have one.

  • The short answer is yes. However, meeting in person is better. In-person visits allow the physician to do an exam, demonstrate penile length and go over a live demonstration of the implant.

  • Anyone can be considered for the surgery; however, there are some common barriers. First, you need to be healthy enough to undergo an operative procedure and have the exercise capacity to have sexual intercourse. Second, you must have adequate penile length (which will be demonstrated in the office) to have a functioning prosthetic after the surgery. Lastly, you must be willing to follow postoperative instructions and understand the recovery timeline.

  • Many insurance companies, including Medicare, cover the device.

When you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction, it’s most important to have a good understanding of your treatment choices and how much you personally value your erections. Talking with a urologist at the health system is a great way to explore the best option for you. Make an appointment or call 913-588-1227 to schedule now.

Medically reviewed by Richard J Fantus, MD.

You may also be interested in

Explore more news, events and media