Off-color?

Updated 11/15/2012

How to spot signs of penis enhancement.

Q: In porn, what's the deal with that unusually colored (usually much lighter) area of skin that some guys have on their member? Is that the telltale sign of male enhancement?

A: Not being an avid viewer of porn and not having a penis (enhanced or otherwise), I really wasn't sure what you were referring to here. My best guess is that you're referring to a circumcision scar, which rings around the penis just below the tip and is often lighter in color. You could also be seeing the raphe, which is the subtle ridge that runs along the underside of the member. While not usually different in color, the raphe could appear that way in certain lighting scenarios because it protrudes slightly from an erect penis. I watched a handful of dick-centric clips online to try to see what you see, but I couldn't detect any light-colored penis patches, other than what I just described. Into the world of phalloplasty we go!

Surgical penis enhancement, or phalloplasty, can be approached in a few different ways:

• In gender reassignment surgery, a penis can be constructed by either metoidioplasty or phalloplasty. Metoidioplasty is an enlargement of the clitoris using hormonal replacement therapy and occasionally skin grafts from other parts of the body. Visible scarring is virtually nonexistent. Phalloplasty usually requires two separate surgeries: The first one lengthens the urethra and grafts skin, and after some healing time, a second procedure is done to implant a prosthetic. Scarring is common with this type of phalloplasty.

• The snipping of the suspensory ligaments is the most common form of phalloplasty. Inside the body, two ligaments hold the base of the penis to the pubic bone. Cutting them frees up some length on the inside, resulting in a longer-looking penis from the outside. The scar resulting from this procedure is tiny, and it's done at the base of the penis so it would be totally hidden by pubic hair (if any).

• Lipo-sculpting is what it sounds like: Fat is sucked out of one part of your body and injected into the penis to make it fatter. The only telltale sign of lipo-sculpting would be the injection sites: a handful of tiny dimples that would be hardly visible unless you were down there with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. (Or, if the surgeon did a crappy job, you'd be able to tell by some lumps and bumps where they do not belong.)

• More skin grafting. Your standard dermal graft to increase penile girth, where skin is taken from elsewhere on the body and grafted to the penis, is often undetectable. However, any kind of skin grafting tends to leave scarring (not to mention a lot of pain) where the tissue was taken from--usually the forearm or a spot under the armpit, not on the penis. Another type of skin grafting, which is mildly horrifying, uses freeze-dried tissue from cadavers. The donor couldn't care less, so this would seem to be the superior choice for going the grafting route. Skin grafting seems to be the only form of phalloplasty that would result in discoloration on the penis, though it's not necessarily lighter in color.

Also, the results of penis enlargement surgery are far from grand -- usually only a few centimeters are added -- so they don't produce porn star results. I think you're seeing circumcision scars or natural topography, which would be a lot more obvious under film-studio lighting and in high-def.

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