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3 Reasons Why Dr. Crane Prefers the Semi-Rigid Penile Implant To the Inflatable Penile Implant

Inflatable penile implants are generally considered to be the most advanced type of implant available today. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate well to the FTM phalloplasty patient, and there are important reasons why semi rigid implants are favorable for these men.

  1. In transsexual men, inflatable penile implants do not have the benefit of increasing penile length and girth as much as in the natal male. Compared to the penile skin of a cis gender man, the flaps used for FTM phalloplasty are too thick for the 15-20 ml of fluid in the inflatable implant to make a noticeable difference in length or girth. The video below demonstrates: YouTube Preview Image

    Filmed in the operating room by Dr. Crane, this video shows the chief urologist on the Gent, Belgium transgender surgery team inflating and deflating a penile implant before replacing it with a semi-rigid implant. As you can see, there is not an appreciable difference in the size of the inflated vs deflated state of the implant. The only notable difference is the rigidity of the implant.

  2. Long term, inflatable implants may not provide as much rigidity as semi-rigid implants. In as little as three years, inflatable implants can gradually lose rigidity over time due to leakage of the saline solution. In the video, this inflatable implant was replaced with a semi-rigid implant because it lost its rigidity in less than 3 years.
  3. Inflatable implants are more expensive than semi-rigid implants. While there’s literature that claims lifespans of up to 20 years for inflatable implants, it’s important to note that these studies have been done in older men, not younger trans men who are likely to be more physically and sexually active. In this population, 5-10 year lifespans are more realistic for inflatable implants. Semi-rigid implants on the other hand can last 20 years or more, and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t last a lifetime. They have fewer parts compared to inflatable implants, and thus a lower rate of mechanical failure.

Overall, semi-rigid implants offer more rigidity and a longer lifespan than inflatable penile implants, plus lower costs and reduced complication rates. For these reasons, semi-rigid implants are the preferred choice of Dr. Crane, as well as the Gent, Belgium team, for transsexual men.

Also see: Penile Implant Surgery

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