Buried Penis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Buried penis is a condition where the penis becomes hidden by folds of fat and skin. It is most common in men who are obese. Having a buried penis can cause problems with urinating and having sex.

Here’s what you need to know about having a buried penis.

What Is a Buried Penis?

A buried penis is a normal-sized penis, but it’s hidden inside folds of skin from the abdomen, thighs, or scrotum. Sometimes the tip of the penis is visible.

It’s unclear how many men in the U.S. suffer from buried penis. Men don’t always mention the problem to their primary care doctors. However, due to rising obesity rates, more men are likely to develop this problem in the future.

What Causes a Buried Penis?

Some baby boys are born with a buried penis. Weak ligaments attaching the penis to the body may cause the problem in newborns. In children, the condition often goes away on its own.

In adults, the most common cause of buried penis is obesity. It requires medical treatment.

Other causes of buried penis include:

  • Genital lymphedema. Lymph fluid may cause swelling around the scrotum, causing the penis to become buried.
  • Scar formation. Scars from previous surgeries can hide the penis.
  • Hidradenitis. This is a condition where inflamed sweat glands in the groin cause tissue to swell around the penis.
  • Trauma. Blunt force trauma to the genital area (such as in a car accident) may cause swelling and scarring.

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Symptoms of a Buried Penis

Symptoms of a buried penis may include:

  • The penis becomes covered with skin and fat to the point where it’s not visible.
  • Only the tip of the penis is visible.
  • Trouble with urination.
  • Painful erections.
  • Vaginal penetration is painful or impossible.

Complications From a Buried Penis

A buried penis causes multiple problems, both physical and emotional. Some of the issues are:

Problems with urinating

A man with a buried penis may find he is unable to urinate standing up. Even when sitting, it’s hard to urinate without dribbling urine on skin and/or clothing. Problems urinating may lead to blockages in the urinary tract.

Hygiene issues

It’s hard to keep the area around a buried penis clean. Men with a buried penis are prone to urinary tract infections and infections of the skin around the genital area.

Poor hygiene can also lead to chronic inflammation of the penis. In some cases, infection and inflammation from a buried penis can lead to penile cancer.

Sexual problems

Men with a buried penis have trouble with erections. If they can achieve an erection, it’s usually painful. Having sexual intercourse is difficult and often painful.

Consequently, men with a buried penis are often unable to get a woman pregnant.

Psychological problems

A buried penis can cause emotional and mental health issues, especially if the condition is a byproduct of morbid obesity. Both obesity and a buried penis can greatly affect a man’s self-esteem. Men with a buried penis may suffer from depression and anxiety.

Treatment for a Buried Penis

If you think you may have a buried penis, talk to your healthcare provider. They may refer you to a urologist, who can usually diagnose the problem with a physical exam.

The treatment for a buried penis is surgery. The exact procedure will depend on the location and the amount of tissue covering the penis.

These are some surgical procedures your doctor may recommend:

  • Abdominoplasty — The “tummy tuck” removes fat and skin from the abdominal area.
  • Panniculectomy – Doctors remove the pannus, or excess skin and fatty tissue that hangs down over the genitals and/or thighs.
  • Escutcheonectomy — Doctors remove the fat pad above the pubic area.
  • Skin grafting — Doctors may need to graft skin onto the penis when they separate it from surrounding tissues.

Follow-Up Care for a Buried Penis

It’s possible for a buried penis to recur, especially if you don’t address the underlying cause of obesity. So, it’s important to take steps to lead a healthy lifestyle after surgery. Your doctor may recommend weight loss, nutritional counseling, and/or psychological counseling.

To learn more about the UPMC Department of Urology and its services, visit UPMC.com/Urology.

Sources

Cureus Journal of Medical Science, Adult Acquired Buried Penis: A Hidden Problem in Obese Men, Link

National Library of Medicine, Evaluation and management of adult acquired buried penis, Link

National Library of Medicine, Surgical management of buried penis in adults, Link

International Society for Sexual Medicine, What is a hidden/buried penis? Link

UPMC Physician Resources, The Concealed Morbidity of Buried Penis, Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adult Obesity Facts, Link

About Urology

The UPMC Department of Urology offers a wide variety of specialized care for diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs, including erectile dysfunction, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, prostate cancer, and more. We have a multifaceted team of physicians and researchers working together to provide the best care to both children and adults. Our team is nationally renowned for expertise in highly specialized technologies and minimally invasive surgical techniques. To find a provider near you, visit our website.