What Is El Chapo Hiding?



El Chapo, the infamous multi-escape drug lord, took a big chance. He snuck away from his hideout to have penile surgery in Tijuana, Mexico to restore his potency, according to the Mexican newspaper Reforma.[1]

I have a number of questions about the story:

  • Did it really happen?
  • Who did the surgery?
  • Who tipped off the press?
  • Was El Chapo so concerned about his erectile dysfunction that he risked re-capture and his health?

The  Journal of Urology  in its February 2016 edition has an article “The Who, How and What of Real-World Penile Implantation in 2015” by Gerard D Henry MD,  a practicing Urologist in Shreveport, LA, and his colleagues.

They pointed out that earlier treatments for erectile dysfunction involved the placement of rigid devices outside the body resulting in high rates of erosion and infection. A reservoir was placed behind the pubic area.

Today, advancements in biomaterial and surgical techniques have led to most U.S. urologists to place an inflatable penile prosthesis with an infection retardant coating in the Corpora cavernosa— regions of the penis which become hardened when filled with blood. A reservoir is currently placed in front of the bladder.

When the penis is inflated, the prosthesis makes the penis stiff and thick, similar to a natural erection. Newer models have cylinders that may increase the length, thickness, and stiffness of the penis

The article in The Journal of Urology reports that in addition to changes in the type of implant used, surgical techniques have evolved to reduce operating time, lower infection rates, and improve outcome

How many men have implants each year?

Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery estimates there are 20,000 penile implants a year. Is satisfaction the same with an implant as it is naturally? Since we can’t ask El Chapo, we will have to rely on the word of Belgian and American urologists who are trying to track the outcomes of erectile dysfunction surgery. A study is underway to establish a baseline of data collection from  PROPPER (Prospective Registry of Outcomes with Penile Prosthesis for Erectile Restoration). The PROPPER is the first large, prospective, multicenter, multinational, monitored, and internal review board approved study of real world outcomes for patients with penile implants, according to the urologists.

Are the implants Safe?

Aside from avoiding the posses after him, how dangerous was it for El Chapo to undergo erectile surgery?

What if the surgeon had a bad result?

Any surgery has its risks. Those associated with penile implants include:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding after the surgery possibly leading to re-operation
  • Infection
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Erosion (tissue around the implant may break down)
  • Failure to function

Never-the-less, an article on WebMD website[2], concludes when the prosthesis is inflated, it makes the penis stiff and thick, similar to a natural erection. Most men rate the erection as shorter than their normal erection; however, newer models have cylinders that may increase the length, thickness, and stiffness of the penis.

WEB MD website is vetted by specialists. The site discussing erectile dysfunction notes about 90%-95% of inflatable prosthesis implants produce erections suitable for intercourse. A penile prosthesis does not change sensation on the skin of the penis or a man’s ability to reach orgasm. Ejaculation is not affected. Satisfaction rates with the prosthesis are very high, according to the urologists, and typically 80%-90% of men are satisfied with the results and say they would choose the surgery again

If his enemies or government forces really want to punish El Chapo, they just have to have his implant removed (if he really has one). Once a penile prosthesis is put in it may destroy the natural erection reflex. Men usually cannot get an erection without inflating the implant.

[1] “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/El-Chapo-Underwent-Erectile-Dysfunction-Surgery-in-Tijuana-20160114-0039.html”.

2 MD http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp


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