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A Penis-Whitening Trend Is Raising Red Flags With Surgeons

"It is a thin skin... and we do not yet fully understand how it will react."

We can't believe we have to type these words, but you probably shouldn't whiten your penis with lasers, OK?

Surgeons are sounding the alarm on the trend — which is gaining popularity in Thailand — because of its uncertain benefits and "many risks," including burns, scars, taut skin, and a penis that might turn out to be darker (or even spotted) than the one they started out with, AFP reports.

"I think it should not be done in a patient that doesn't need it," Italian plastic surgeon Massimiliano Brambilla, who specializes in genital procedures, told AFP.

"Most of the substances that are used to whiten ... are quite aggressive."

The trend took off after a Bangkok clinic recently advertised the procedure on Facebook, The New York Post writes. The Facebook post, which has since been removed, included a viral video of the procedure as well as before and after photos.

The clinic now averages about 100 patients per month for penis whitening, which costs $650 US for five laser sessions, AFP reports.

"We are simply responding to our clients' needs. Many of them have asked for treatments of specific areas," Popol Tansakul, the clinic's marketing manager, told DPA International.

"We use the same pigmentation laser equipment employed in other skin treatments. All of the equipment received certification [by Thailand's Ministry of Public Health]," Popol said.

But Thailand's public health ministry recently responded to all the attention the procedure had raised, warning people in a statement that the procedure is "not necessary," BBC said.

"Penis laser whitening is not necessary, wastes money and may give more negative effects than positive ones," Dr. Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn said in the statement, according to BBC.

The clinic started offering penis whitening after it had already been offering vagina-whitening services, Popol told BBC.

"Patients started to ask about penis whitening, and so we started the treatment a month later," he said.

People have an idea of an aesthetic for genitals that is unrealistic, and will shave and manipulate then to look more like the sex organs of very young people, France plastic surgeon Fabien Boucher told AFP.

There's been little scientific research on the lasers and chemicals used for whitening procedures, and none have been developed for this specific area, he added.

"It is a thin skin ... and we do not yet fully understand how it will react," Boucher said.

Thailand is a huge market for products and procedures that whiten the skin, The New York Post writes. Last year, a Bangkok beauty company faced major backlash for advertising a skin-lightening cream by claiming that having white skin can help you "win."

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