Recently, a young male passed away as a result of a penis enlargement surgery – the first known case of this nature reported in Sweden. Relatively straightforward, this surgical procedure has until now been deemed clinically safe for patients.

The 30-year-old man had undergone the procedure in a plastic surgery clinic located in Stockholm.

Hypoxia and hypotension noted shortly before the man’s death

The case report which was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences stated that the Swedish male passed away as a consequence of complications due to the surgery. The complications included a sudden increase in heart rate and hypotension – both of which can be life threatening, as a result of insufficient perfusion of critical organs.

Despite no medical history of cardiac pathology, the man suffered a cardiac arrest. He was immediately transferred to the emergency care department, and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation procedure was carried out. However, the man passed away approximately two hours later.

Immediately prior to these complications, the surgeons were involved in the process of administering fat injections into the penis. The death was stipulated to be a result of a fat embolism, which involved fat cells travelling to vasculature in the lung and rupturing some blood vessels.

The patient had mild asthma, but no other past medical conditions. This is the first incident of its kind where a “seemingly simple and safe procedure of penis enlargement by autologous fat transfer caused sudden death in a healthy young man”, as stated in the report.

Death – an uncommon complication of penis enlargement surgeries

According to the researchers, death is a rare complication of penile enlargement surgery; more common complications mentioned in the report include “loss of the injected fat tissue and local infection”.

Another reason purported for the death is the fact that the surgeons carried out incision of the ligament and injection of the fat cells simultaneously.

Researchers commented that, “the risk of fat embolisation is higher when pretraumatised tissue is subjected to fat injection, like in this case, where a penis elongation by loosening of a penile ligament was performed before the fat injection.” This may have resulted in the erratic and drastic changes in the vital signs that were observed shortly before the man passed away.

An autopsy conducted after the man’s demise reported broken ribs as a consequence of the resuscitation procedure and some haemorrhage at the base of the penis. It is likely that the fat embolism that entered the lungs occluded small blood vessels, which can prevent oxygenated blood from reaching vital organs in the body.

Tobias Kohler, a urologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, commented on the futility of a penile enlargement procedure stating that, “It's a completely useless procedure that never works and disfigures men, and could kill you.”

He also expressed that disabling complications such as “disfigurement” and “permanent erectile dysfunction” could also result as a consequence of the surgery.

In light of this case, it is essential to ensure that patients are duly informed of all the possible complications of a penis enlargement surgery – and should be allowed to make judicious decisions based on this information and the guidance of a healthcare professional. MIMS

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