This Man Tried To Enlarge His Penis by Injecting It With Petroleum Jelly: It Went Dangerously Wrong

His DIY penis enhancement landed him in the hospital for a month.

Consider this your public service announcement for the day, something you might want to pass along to anyone with a penis in your life: Don't inject petroleum jelly into your penis in an effort to make it larger.

One 45-year-old man living in the South Pacific learned that the hard way after he came down with gangrene on his penis. Yes, gangrene—a condition that causes body tissue to rot away due to a lack of blood flow. Details of this man's diagnosis were published in November 2019 in the medical journal Urology Case Reports (warning: link contains graphic images).

Wait—record scratch. How did this happen?

The Details

As the case report describes, the man went to the ER with a "severe deformity of the shaft of the penis, which had been progressively worsening over the course of five days," wrote the authors. The man said that his shaft was itchy and bled when he scratched it.

He also had some pain in the external genitalia but no problems with urination. When the shaft of the penis began to swell, ulcers appeared, and he started feeling weak and feverish, he went to the ER.

The ER reported his symptoms as a fever of 101 degrees F and a fast heart rate. Aside from the deformation, swelling, tenderness, and ulcers, his penis also had necrotic skin, aka dead tissue. Otherwise, this man was healthy and was not taking any medications.

Doctors thought they knew what was responsible for his symptoms: The man explained that two years earlier, he injected petroleum jelly into the shaft of his penis because he thought that would make his penis bigger. The authors wrote that in some parts of the world, this is a common thing to do.

The man said he did not have any problems initially after the injections and had not done any injections recently.

The Treatment

The surgeons opened up his penis to drain pus and fluid and removed a large amount of tissue. They reported finding a lot of petroleum jelly around the shaft, which they also removed.

Healthcare providers diagnosed him with a type of gangrene called Fournier's gangrene. This type of gangrene can be life-threatening and will cause genital fascia (or connective tissue) to die. It is usually accompanied by pain, fever, and toxicity that affects the whole body. The infection spreads quickly, so getting a diagnosis and treatment immediately is essential.

The man's blood tests also were positive for Staphylococcus aureus, which causes a staph infection, and other bacteria. The antibiotics he received based on these results were able to fight the infection.

The man spent time in the intensive care unit and eventually required two more surgical treatments to remove affected tissue, including on the scrotum. After 10 days in the hospital, once his condition had become more stable, he was visited by plastic surgeons, who did multiple skin grafts on his penis and scrotum to replace the tissue that was removed. After a month, he was discharged from the hospital.

The Lesson

Petroleum jelly is often recommended by dermatologists as a top-notch moisturizer, and it certainly seems harmless on skin. But it's not harmless when it's injected under the skin, and it's safe to say that no healthcare provider has ever given the go-ahead to inject it into the penis, especially as a way to make the penis bigger.

The authors mentioned reports where aside from petroleum jelly, other materials, like mineral oil and waxes, have also been used for self-injections in an attempt to make the penis larger. As you may have guessed, complications from these injections were the same as the ones reported here: pain, ulcers, and Fournier's gangrene.

The petroleum jelly in the shaft was bad enough, but the authors of the case report explain that the man made things worse by scratching his penis, breaking the skin, and introducing the bacteria that sparked the infection. That eventually cut off blood supply to tissues and lead to Fournier's gangrene, the researchers explained.

If anything, this man's case report serves as something of a warning for anyone thinking of trying a DIY penis enlargement. Self-injections, whether with petroleum jelly or anything else for that matter, are not the way to go.

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