In 2013, George Clooney, gently poking fun at the world’s obsession with staying young and looking good, joked that he ironed his testicles in order to keep them looking smooth. Most people, recognizing that Clooney was making a funny at the expense of image-conscious Hollywood, chuckled and moved on. Some, however, took him seriously, actually spawning a real-live treatment that would gently resurface one’s testicles with needles, lasers, and all sorts of other accoutrement that don’t belong anywhere near one of the most sensitive parts of the body.
Of course, this testicle treatment was roundly mocked and we all went back to living our saggy-scrotumed lives. We forgot that such a thing had even ever existed until we needed to come up with a fun fact at a holiday party. “Did you know,” we’d slur happily to the people around us, “that George Clooney irons his balls? I’m being for real.”
This year, none of us will have to dig so deep. Because while ball ironing may have died somewhere between Reddit and real life, a strange and exciting new treatment has taken its place. It’s called scrotox, it involves injecting neurotoxins right into your (“Look at the big brain on Brad!”) scrotum, and it’s only performed by one doctor in America (although you can also get the procedure done in Mexico, if you’re so inclined).
What are the benefits of Scrotox? According to a man who’s had it done it several times, it makes the testicles hang lower (why?), makes them more smooth (okay, but…), and enhances sexual pleasure due to the confidence a pair of low-hanging nuts imbues in the owner. There are also some dubious claims floating around that women (and probably men) love the feeling of having some big ole’ balls slap against their genitals or perineums while engaging in sexual activity. That last one is purely a personal preference, by the way, even if it is true. A reddit thread on the topic suggests that some people do like the feeling, while several women we talked to — and who asked to remain anonymous because they don’t want to have a Google hit for “my name + ball slapping” — responded with much less enthusiastic reactions, ranging from “I’m not really into that” to “I’ve just never really thought about it, but like, yeah, I could see how that would feel good.”
But we’re not here to shame anyone. If you want to get your balls pumped full of toxins, be our guest. And the author of this piece — who once ate 12 pounds of candy in one sitting because why not? — certainly has no right to cast aspersions. We simply wondered why exactly Scrotox has become increasingly popular, whether it’s going to be the next big thing, and whether dudes really need it. So we went to the source: Dr. John Mesa, a Manhattan (and New Jersey) based plastic surgeon who was the first to bring a needle full of dangerous fluid to the scrotums of a hungry public, only six years after Saturday Night Live lampooned the idea on the show.
Speaking to us from his New Jersey office, Dr. Mesa — who confirmed that he had at least one procedure, a man from California (shocker), scheduled this week — said he’s not surprised that the practice is taking off. He’s seen 15 men this year and expects that demand for the procedure will skyrocket next year when it’s more mainstream (read: covered by the media) and feels like less of a taboo practice. Mesa is familiar with the paper that suggests that botox in the genital area can be therapeutic (at least for testicular pain) but he says that he didn’t start offering the treatment for that reason. Instead, he explains, his practice embraced this new non-surgical procedure when someone contacted him and asked for it.
“I got into Scrotox,” Mesa says, “because patients found me on the internet. They sent email inquiries and asked if I was willing to do Botox in the scrotum. I said okay, the face is the most difficult area to do and I can do it easily. Why not doing it down there?”
It’s a tale as old as time — think of how many great things we wouldn’t have if someone or other didn’t just say “why not?” — but it’s also a complicated one. According to Mesa, who has an entire room in his office devoted only to men (possibly scented with those Yankee candle “just for him” offerings?), the reason that many men aren’t willing to get any procedures performed in their genitals isn’t due to the pain but due to the social stigma that they face.
“Patients are very afraid of doing that, Mesa says. “Not because of the injection itself, but because they think the doctor’s going to look at them bad. They seem shy, but when they realize I will treat them like they were doing any other treatment, they feel comfortable. Then they do it.”
And these men aren’t just low-ball newbies who’ve never tried to alter the shape of their scrotums before or dudes with a thousand bucks burning holes in their pockets (Scrotox requires 50 units of botox; each unit costs between $13 and $20). Mesa says that one of his clients, a man who had always wanted loose testicles because it made sex feel better, had even tried weights and stretchers to achieve his desired outcome. Nothing helped. That’s when he picked up the phone and started making inquiries to get what he wanted, if only for four months at a time (botox has to be reimplemented, as we know).
“I like to be up to date with what is going on with celebrities,” Mesa says. “You know, when you talk to the patients you need to be up to date with that. The word in the street is that George Clooney does ball ironing; that he does Botox in the testicles to keep them smooth. I do Botox to make the face smooth that means Botox in the scrotum will be fine. When I got the phone call, I was like ‘okay, I’ll do it because I already can imagine doing that.’ It came into my mind.”
Long story short: If you think this ball obsession is weird, blame Clooney. Of course Mesa wasn’t just going based on rumors alone (especially ones that are untrue). Before he committed to pumping a dude’s wedding tackle (what a perfectly terrible term) with the toxins, he sat down and did a good deal of research to make sure that he wasn’t going against the first tenet of the Hippocratic oath — do no harm. But there’s really nothing to fear, he says. And because the botox is administered into the scrotum and not into the testicles themselves (we can all unclench now) there’s very little risk of endangering the genitals. And the pain — we know you’re worried — is minimal because Mesa gently numbs the area he’s going to inject before just stabbing a needle in and just pushing it around.
“I inject the botox mainly in the scrotum,” Mesa explains, describing the process, “because there are two muscles that make the testicles to go up. One is the muscle that is just underneath the skin; it’s called the dartos muscle and that’s the one that makes the scrotum smaller when it contracts and makes it very wrinkly. That’s my main target.”
If you’re on the fence on this one, Mesa wants you to know that the only problem you might have after the procedure is a little bruising or discomfort, but that should dissipate very quickly. And from a medical standpoint, there may actually be some medical benefits to getting the procedure done. “It keeps the sperm viable,” Mesa says. It’s unlikely that scrotox will soon be making a killing in the fertility market, but according to Mesa, the combination of botox and testicles that are further away from the body keeps sperm at a more comfortable temperature, making it harder for the sperm to be “not working.”
[If you don’t want to get scrotox but are concerned about this issue, Mesa says that not taking a hot bath before sexual activity could help with that too (unless you want to avoid all that, then take a hot bath by all means) (but also speak to your doctor, because we’re not out here telling you to freeze your balls to keep them healthy.)]
Along with the man who spoke to Cosmo about the magic of Scrotox (he’s been back three times), Mesa says that he has several other repeat customers. He doesn’t generally ask his clients whether their sex lives have improved after the procedure — “I’m a doctor. I just do my job.” — but says that three men have volunteered that it’s done wonders. And while he couldn’t be happier for them, Mesa’s also concerned that other men who would like this procedure performed might still be hesitant. Scrotox may only be getting its first mainstream boost, but Mesa says that the treatment is a hot topic on boards devoted to men’s sexual health. And why wouldn’t it be? Who hasn’t looked at themselves naked in the mirror and wondered what they could do to make their genitals more appealing to themselves or others. At least 15 men have done exactly that and decided to act on it this year alone! And if those beautifully-scrotumed souls are any indication, 2017’s going to open a floodgate of dudes comfortable enough to go under the needle.
“There’s a need out there,” Mesa says, “and since no other doctors are willing to do that, I don’t mind.”