When it comes to plastic surgery, we’re sure you’re aware of a number of cautionary tales that should give you pause about undergoing such a procedure yourself. Add this one to the list.
Neven Ciganovic is a 45-year-old Croatian man who has had more than a dozen surgical operations to enhance his nose, chin, lips and stomach. Unfortunately, during one of those recent nose jobs, he was reportedly diagnosed with priapism, a prolonged and painful erection that occurs regardless of whether or not he’s aroused.
“I was in Iran for rhinoplasty for the documentary film that British Channel 4 is filming covering my life,” Ciganovic told Metro. “We did not record the surgery but only the consultation sessions with the doctor. They gave me general anesthesia and I reacted badly to it.” To make matters worse, Ciganovic says that he wasn’t given painkillers to remedy his suffering, despite being in agony.
Following that undoubtedly horrendous experience, he underwent another operation to fix his perpetually tumescent dong, though it won’t actually fully recover for several months.
According to Dr Brian Steixner, a urologist at the Atlanticare Regional Medical Centre, this is not a common malady (which is a relief) but it does happen (which is not a relief). It typically arises in combination with medications or injection that relax the blood vessels involved in achieving an erection.
Steixner says that he deals with roughly two cases of priapism per week but, in one particularly crazy 36-hour period, he did deal with six cases. And while he says that neither he, nor anyone he knows, has ever seen priapism form in anybody who’s used Viagra (despite the constant warnings you hear during those ads) he did say that he’s seen cases like that of Ciganovic, which develop as a result of a reaction to an anaesthetic.
“There’s a medicine called Propofol, and it’s a commonly used in this country as anesthesia for short procedures," he says. "There are case studies where Propofol induces a priapism.” Thankfully, he adds, getting it this way is “incredibly rare.” But if it does happen, he explains how to treat it.
“There are conservative measures where you can wait it out,” Steixner says. However, he adds that time is of the essence and that there's a risk with going this route: For every minute that you hold off from heading to the hospital after maintaining an erection for four hours, you run the risk of permanently damaging your member with either scarring, or the inability to ever achieve an erection again.
“If it doesn’t go away on its own, we actually have to aspirate the blood out,” he says. “I stick a big needle in the side of the penis, and I have to suck all the blood out.” In extreme cases, he also says that he has cut the penis open and let the blood drain out.
Despite these complications, which for most would be traumatic, Ciganovic is still optimistic that one final nose operation (to fix a “wonky septum,” he says) will be the one that finally jolts him into the international spotlight.
“I look forward to a movie about myself," he said. "Channel 4 dedicated a whole episode about me. I think this is a big deal and I hope this is the start of my international career."
He also adds that he’s considered some “non-surgical” procedures, such as a “vampire facelift," which will extract platelets from his blood to use as a skin filler.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health