Philadelphia Is the Penis Enlargement Capital of the World
For the past 16 years, from the confines of his bright Bala Cynwyd office, Mark Solomon has quietly been helping men from around the world feel better about their most important appendage: their penis. From longer to thicker to both, he’s the only doctor on the East Coast performing the penis enlargement procedure, and men come from as close as Center City, New York, and Boston to as far as Florida and the Netherlands to put their VIP packages in his capable hands.
In the past three years, he gone from performing roughly three PE procedures each year to one to three a week, and he was recently invited to explain how it all works on the Howard Stern Show. We caught up with him to hear everything from how he got started and how it goes from mini to manly — Is there pain? Are there risks? Can you tell? — to why Philly is quickly becoming the penis enlargement capital of the world.
Q: How did you get started doing this? Was anyone else doing it before you?
A: In the early ‘90s I did a fellowship in Paris. [I met a] surgeon there who was applying for the same fellowship. He was from South Africa, and he and I stayed in touch. Around ’90 or ’91, he was operating in South Africa and operating in Europe because there were significant financial restrictions if he stayed in South Africa. He wasn’t sure what the future would hold. At any rate, he heard about a surgeon in China who was doing penis lengthening. He spoke no Chinese, and he said it was quite a journey to get to this guy’s place … but, he ended up in this little hospital somewhere in China and the doctor who was doing penis lengthening on Chinese guys taught him. It was not one of the big cities in China — and this was China almost 20 years ago!
Then he took this back to South Africa and also opened a clinic in Vienna, and he called me up and said “Come to Vienna, we’ll do a bunch of cases, and I’ll teach you how to do it. “ I was writing a book on male cosmetic surgery at the time, so I went to Vienna, spent a week with him, did a bunch of cases, and learned how to do it.
Q: What year was this?
A: ’94 was when I finally went to Vienna. And in fact, the other funny joke of the whole thing — and I lost the photograph — but we took a taxi to the clinic from the hotel and we get out of the taxi and I look at the name on the side of the building and I start laughing because the name on the side of the building — it’s in German — says Die Neuen Wien Klinik. It meant “The New Vienna Clinic,” but, in English, of course it [looked like]“The New Wiener Clinic.” [Laughs]
Q: Oh my God, what are the chances of that?
A: Right. I started laughing and he, of course, because it’s an American colloquialism, didn’t even get the joke. But I, to this day, I just think it’s great karma that that’s where I went to learn to do penis lengthening.
Q: Destined, I guess.
A: Right. So yeah, that’s where I learned how to do it, at the New Wiener Clinic.
Q: How long did it take before you started getting one to three patients a week?
A: So I started doing it in the mid-’90s. Then actually, in the late-’90s there was a guy in California who’d done a bunch of them who got some really bad press and he pretty much killed it and it really fell into some level of disrepute. So I would do a couple a year, three a year, but not a lot. Then, in the past two or three years it’s really sort of taken off. The Internet being a viral sort of medium, it’s just grown.
Q: Is there any reason you think that people are starting to do it again? Is it the changes in procedures?
A: First of all, the way I do the thickening procedure has significantly improved over what we started doing years ago, in the fact that I can wrap the whole circumference of the penis. I think that makes an aesthetically nicer penis, I think these graft materials are significantly bigger than what was available 10 years ago, so that you get a thicker result, so that helps. I think that the lengthening procedures have gone through a number of iterations and the latest one makes the most sense, has the smallest amount of external scars, and it works. There have been these subtle improvements over the years. They’ve all helped.
Q: How many men have you treated in the Philadelphia area?
A: I get patients from all over the world. It’s not just Philadelphia. New York crushes Philadelphia in terms of the popularity of this, but it’s eight million people versus two million, right? Part of it’s just sheer numbers.
Q: Do you feel that guys in Philadelphia really know this is here?
A: No, no, no. I think that people outside the area are far more aware of it.
Q: So, you do two different penis enlargement operations: length and girth. How do you add length to the penis?
A: The length procedure is actually cutting a ligament that holds the penis back that attaches the penis to the pubic bone. And by cutting that ligament, you can advance out what I describe as the “hidden penis,” the portion that is under the skin. And that makes it longer, or makes it looks longer, when it’s flaccid primarily. And then patients have to wear a device, which is basically a condom with a weight in it, and that weighted condom prevents scar tissue from forming that would pull it back.
Q: How many inches on average are you able to add in length?
A: One to two.
Q: How does increasing the girth of a penis work?
A: The girth procedure uses tissue that we get from the tissue bank these are called “dermal graphs.” Dermis is the layer of tissue beneath the epidermis — epidermis is your skin — so if you shave off the outer layer you have dermis. And these graphs, they’re called acellular dermis, meaning that they have no cells so you can’t reject them. It’s basically the support structure of the skin and it allows actually the scaffold which allows tissue to grow in. So basically I wrap this tissue around the shaft, under the skin, and then your own tissue grows into it.
Q: About how much width can you add to it?
A: Thirty to 50 percent and it’s circumference, it’s not just width. Actually, formally, maybe 10 to 12 years ago, we would take little strips and slide them down the sides. Now these materials are cut in larger pieces, thicker sheets, that allow me to go all the way around, so that’s what I do.
Q: What is the recovery time with both of these procedures?
A: Four to six weeks. I mean, you’re back to work within a week or so, but before you’re functional and healed it’s four to six weeks.
Q: So four to six weeks before you engage in any sex or anything like that?
Q: How much pain do patients have?
A: It varies from patient to patient. Some guys are “Eh, it’s no big deal” and other guys are “Whoa.” A lot of it has to do with how well behaved they are after the procedure. The guys who sort of hang out and don’t get too carried away have less pain, less swelling, they do better.
Q: What are the risks of doing it?
A: Well, with the lengthening procedure the biggest risk is that scar tissue can pull things back. So if you’re not willing to wear the weighted device, don’t have the lengthening. With the girth procedure, the biggest risk is infection.
Q: Has it ever resulted in someone not being able to have sex after doing this?
Q: Why do you think guys are doing this? How much do you think it improves their body image?
A: I think that’s strictly what it’s about. Ya know, for a lot of guys it’s about what do they look like in their gym shorts because they feel they’re inadequate. I tell patients all the time, it’s breast augmentation for men.
Q: So it’s actually about when they have clothes on that they’re more concerned about?
A: Well, I think it’s more the self confidence that they’ve got the biggest penis in the room, whether they have to show their penis or not.
Q: And do most guys want length or girth added?
A: Uh … Most guys want both. I probably do a little bit more girth than length because they don’t want to wear the weights.
Q: Can you do them both at the same time?
Q: What’s the average size of a guy’s penis?
A: The average flaccid penis is 3-and-a-half inches in length and erect is 5-and-three-quarters and that’s if you take the average of about 12,000 measurements, which you can collect from literature.
Q: On average, how big is the guy that comes in there?
A: Normal. With rare exceptions, 10 percent are true abnormalities. For example, what’s called a ‘buried penis’ and for those you don’t just do a lengthening, you also have to do a liposuction of the pubic area, for example. Which, by the way, is a nice trick for a lot of guys because you flatten out the pubic area; it makes it look longer without doing any lengthening.
Q: Do you do that often?
A: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Q: Is that usually in a heavier person?
A: Generally, but not always. But the other thing that the procedure does if you think about the aesthetics of the penis and you think about measurements of what normal things are, the length and the circumference, either hard or soft, should be roughly one to one. So if a guy has a penis that’s 3-and-a-half inches long when he’s flaccid but the circumference is 2-and-a-half inches, then a girth procedure would give him better proportions.
Q: Do you ever see guys coming in because they feel like they can’t please a woman in bed?
A: Generally, that’s not a discussion that we have. Because I make a big point of saying this is about appearance not function. The flip side is that when I talk to their significant others or their wives after surgery they tell me they can feel the difference. In fact, one of the stories I told on Howard was there’s a guy who came back for his third thickening…
Q: Oh, you can do it multiple times?
A: Yes, and the wife basically said, “Oh my goodness, I’m not sure if I can take anymore.” But then, six months later, she came back and got a breast augmentation. So I guess the answer is she could. [Laughs]
Q: So can you lengthen more than one time?
A: No, but you can add girth more than one time.
Q: What’s the most girth you’ve ever added to one penis?
A: That guy — three.
Q: So how many inches did it increase the circumference?
A: His circumference probably went up to about 16 centimeters, which is huge.
Q: Did it look normal at that point?
A: It looked really big.
Q: How big was this guy, how tall?
A: He was maybe 5’8 and skinny as a rail. They were nudists, so he wanted a really big penis. And he got one.
Q: I guess that makes a big difference when that’s what everybody sees.
A: I’ve got a couple of people like that. Yea, they’re nudists and they want to have big penises.
Q: And where are they usually from?
A: Well, he was from Emmaus, you know where that is? That’s up outside of Lancaster.
Q: How do you know if you’re a good candidate?
A: Come see me. You know, healthy, preferably non-smoker, non-diabetic, no medications, no problems with erections, ya know, normal penis.
Q: So it’s not about having a penis that works better at all.
A: Correct. If your penis doesn’t work I’m not gonna make it work better. And I get an awful lot of calls from guys who need treatment for impotence. I do get that, and I don’t treat those people. ‘Cause I’m not interested in operating on people I can’t help.
Q: You also do scrotum procedures, correct?
Q: Do you want to talk a little bit about that and what that entails?
A: So, scrotal issues include, just generally, a scrotum that hangs too much, or what’s called a “turkey neck,” which is basically a web that goes from the shaft of the penis to the scrotum. Some of those patients will tell me they feel like they can’t penetrate very well. So, removing the web makes them feel better about that, they don’t feel like they’re tethered. Does that make sense? So that’s an option for those guys.
Q: How do you know if it’s hanging too far down, on average?
A: That’s an interesting question; I don’t have a lot of numbers in that regard. But it’s sort of like pornography; you know it when you see it.
Q: What is that surgery like? What’s the recovery time?
A: Again, two to four weeks. There’s a couple different procedures you can do, the hanging down is different than the turkey neck.
Q: How do they work?
A: It’s sort of complicated to explain but they’re just technically different procedures.
Q: So is this one actually where you’re cutting away, though?
A: Right, you’re removing tissue. Well, the turkey neck you rearrange tissue and the hanging down you remove tissue. But you have to maintain the blood flow to the scrotum, so it’s a challenge.
Q: Have you ever had someone who wasn’t happy with the results?
A: Mmm… probably. Yea, I can’t think off the top of my head, but I’m sure I have.
Q: But in general, what’s the reaction you get from people after they’ve had it done?
A: Guys are satisfied, they’re happy they did it. Anywhere from like “Yea, it’s okay,” to ecstatic.
Q: This lasts for the rest of their life?
A: As far as I know. The guy from Missouri I just—I had done a lengthening on him over 10 years ago and he’s much longer than his pre-op photo and I just did a thickening on him.
Q: How much do the procedures start at?
A: About $6,000 and it goes up when you start putting multiple procedures together. $15,000 to $20,000.
Q: Are there any scars that are left? If you are undressed in front of someone is there any sign that shows you’ve had something done?
A: So, for the lengthening procedure there’s about a one inch scar where the penis meets the pubic area, but the pubic hair will cover it. Although guys don’t always have pubic hair, just like women don’t always have public hair anymore. Part of the reason guys don’t have pubic hair is because they want to make their penis look longer. But basically if you cover it, it’s not visible. And then the scars in the scrotum and behind the head of the penis for the girth procedure and the scrotal procedures. Scrotal scars are almost always imperceptible and the ones behind the head of the penis are like circumcision scars, which are pretty imperceptible.
Q: So getting back to the whole Philly thing, do you think that once Philly knows more about you, you’ll be seeing more guys coming in?
A: You know, maybe. I don’t know. Philadelphia was probably more conservative than most of the rest of the country for a long time about breast augmentation, then it sort of took off a few years ago. The Northeast is a more prudential part of the world. But again, I get a lot of inquiries from Boston, but even more from Florida and California and Texas.
Q: Are there other doctors in New York that are doing it?
A: Not presently, no.
Q: So are you the only one on the East Coast?
A: The way I do it, that’s correct. There’s a guy in Virginia who does fat injections and does some lengthenings.
Q: You told me earlier that a lot of Philadelphia men that do come to you are coming because they’ve had fat injections and they need the procedure to be re-done. Why are you fixing a lot of the fat injections?
A: Well fat injections require that the fat live in the recipient site and there’s no fat in a penis normally. So it’s not really a good place to put fat when you think about it. It’s great for breast augmentation and it’s great for buttocks augmentation ‘cause those are areas where fat normally lives. The fat doesn’t live in the penis so … inevitably when you inject fat not all of it will survive, some of it’s gonna die, so that leaves islands of fat to get lumpy and it’s aesthetically just not logical to me, doesn’t make sense. So while I do fat injections, it’s not, I think, appropriate for the penis.
Q: Do fat injections go away after a while?
A: Well, that’s what happens. You lose about a third of it right off the bat. And you don’t know which third you’re gonna lose.
Q: So that’s why it can become lumpy or look strange.
A: Right. And also, even when you have an erection the fat’s soft, spongy. I’m not sure that’s… I can’t speak to the woman side of it, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Q: When you add the length and the girth, I’m assuming that it also adds two inches to your erection, if you get two inches when flaccid?
A: Well that’s the assumption but nobody knows for sure. And notice I don’t have pictures of erect guys on my website.
Q: Have you ever heard from your patients though?
A: I mean anecdotally I tell people yea, some guys have nice … they admit they’re longer and again, the thing that really sealed it for me was that their partners tell me they feel a difference. But that’s not … I don’t have 100 percent of my patients telling me that.
Q: Why would there not be … if you have two inches flaccid you don’t get two inches erect?
A: Well because the penis is sort of like the head of a turtle. It’s the same head whether it’s in the shell or out of the shell.
Q: What else do you think men and their wives or girlfriends or partners should know about this?
A: A lot of the patients that I get are married, a lot of them their wives have had a couple kids and the guys think they can’t satisfy their wives. The other thing that everybody thought when I started doing this was all the men would be gay, but probably only 20 to 30 percent are gay and the rest of them are straight. And probably half of them are married.
Q: Do you feel that it’s definitely a procedure that men don’t want anyone to know they’re having done?
A: Oh, without a doubt.
Q: So is there some shame involved?
A: It’s not shame it’s just privacy. But then again, I’ve had patients with breast implants that don’t want anyone to know or women who get their labia done, they don’t want people to know. Or face lifts. You don’t wanna have anyone know, you just wanna do it.
Go here for more information, or to view before-and-after pictures.