Q: In porn, what’s the deal with that unusually colored (usually much lighter) area of skin that some guys have on their member? Is that the telltale sign of male enhancement? You answered this question before (“Off-color,” Nov. 15, 2012) and I have attached a reference photo since the previous guy or gal did not. You can see the section of lighter skin leading up to the man’s head. I have seen it a few times and it strikes me as odd. Mark, 29


A: This is indeed a repeat question, verbatim, but one I don’t mind revisiting since there are at least two people out there who are very curious about penis coloration. I’m not sharing the photo you included, but just so everyone can get a visual: It’s a naked man ready to insert his semi-erect penis into the vagina of a woman situated in a position normally reserved for her annual date with a speculum and cervical swab. (Typical.) Along the shaft of the penis leading up to the head is an approximately 1.5-inch strip of lighter colored skin. The head is also the same lighter color, giving the whole member an appearance not unlike Neapolitan ice cream sans strawberry.

This difference in coloration is not a result of “male enhancement” for several reasons. Firstly, a lot of surgical procedures done to increase the size of the penis are done to increase girth. There’s lipo-sculpting, in which fat is removed from other parts of the body and injected into the penis. There’s also skin grafting, in which dermal tissue is taken from another part of the body (or from a cadaver) and grafted onto the penis. Both of these methods are virtually undetectable once healed. The most popular form of penis enlargement involves cutting the ligaments that hold the penis to the pubic bone. Aftercare involves wearing penile weights so the scarring process doesn’t pull the penis back up, which sounds mildly horrifying. Since the ligament snipping is done at the base of the shaft and just inside the body, there would be no visible signs of this procedure anywhere on the shaft of the penis. There are penile implants, but they are generally used in gender reassignment surgery or for treating age-related male sexual dysfunction. In both cases, cylinders are inserted along the length of the penis through the scrotum or lower abdomen. Neither type of surgery would result in altered coloration of the penis, and these procedures generally take away rather than add length.

Seek out some before and after photos of men who have undergone penis enlargement surgery and you’ll see that the results are far from eye-popping. Guys pay anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 just to gain a few centimeters at most. Seems it would be highly unlikely to see a dude who’s had a procedure done in any professional porn. A gentleman interested in pursuing a career in pornography is most likely bigger than the next guy already. If a fella finds himself below the 5-inch range, which is average when erect, I can’t imagine what would motivate him to spend thousands of dollars to extend that length only slightly in hopes of securing a long future in the adult film industry.

I’d say the fella in the photo you included is an avid user of the tanning bed, which appears to be common among porn actors. Since a guy doesn’t tend to have a hard-on during those 10 toasty minutes, part of the penis would remain unexposed to those rays, particularly if he was uncircumcised, and simply wouldn’t get tan. It could also just be a natural skin pigmentation pattern, something found in most mammals. I suppose a guy could jerk off with self-bronzer to even out the tan line, but I can’t imagine being up to the task at the end of that kind of work day.