A buried penis is a medical condition in which skin and fat obscure the phallus, making it appear smaller or less visible. This condition may sometimes be apparent at birth, but it can also occur in later life. It is usually treatable with surgery.

People may also refer to a buried penis as a hidden, concealed, webbed, trapped, or inconspicuous penis. A buried penis may cause difficulty urinating and result in sexual dysfunction, as well as leading to low self-esteem.

In this article, we discuss the causes, potential complications, and treatment of a buried penis.

A person, who may have a buried penis, sitting down.Share on Pinterest
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A buried penis occurs when skin and fat from the scrotum, abdomen, or thigh bury a penis, making it less visible despite it not being unusual in size. Specifically, it is the shaft and glans that are not visible.

Although a buried penis is often present at birth, it may occur at any age, including during adulthood. A doctor will most likely diagnose a buried penis at a younger age, though. This condition is different than a micropenis, which is an abnormally small penis.

Currently, little research is available on the prevalence of the condition, but it is not common. Most cases seem to present in childhood, and one study indicates that it occurs in less than 4% of male newborns in Japan.

Less research is available about its prevalence among adults, although researchers note that the increasing rates of obesity — a primary cause of a buried penis — may mean that many adults acquire the condition later in life. However, adults with a buried penis may not seek medical care unless the condition is significantly affecting their quality of life.

A buried penis can occur due to both congenital and acquired factors.

Congenital causes include the abnormal development of the penile shaft during fetal development, which may cause problems with the skin and fat layers surrounding the penis.

Possible issues include:

  • the ligaments in the penis being too lax
  • too much scrotal skin attaching to the tip of the penis
  • a large fat pad that covers the pubic region and buries the penis

In most cases, an acquired buried penis is due to fat accumulation, inflammation, persistent infection, or penile injury. However, there are other possible causes, including obesity, hidradenitis suppurativa, lichen sclerosus, penoscrotal lymphedema, infections, traumatic events, and unsuccessful elective procedures, such as circumcisions.

A buried penis may cause difficulty urinating at any age or lead to hygiene problems, such as a person soiling themself. As a result, a person may experience skin irritation in the area and have a higher risk of urinary tract infections and penis infections, such as balanitis.

In adolescents and adults, a buried penis may cause sexual dysfunction in the form of erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse, or difficulty with penetration.

A buried penis may also result in psychological symptoms associated with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

A doctor can usually diagnose a buried penis with a visual inspection and physical exam. They should also be able to distinguish it from other penile conditions, such as a micropenis.

If a person suspects that they or their child has a buried penis, it is advisable that they consult a doctor.

The treatment options for a buried penis may vary depending on several factors, such as the cause of the condition and the overall health of the penis.

For example, in very young children, mild cases of the condition may resolve without any intervention. As the infant grows older, the fat pad may disappear, making the penis more prominent. In older individuals, noninvasive techniques, such as weight loss, may help.

However, surgery is typically necessary for the best results. As surgery may have more complications at an older age, it is usually preferable to undergo the procedure at a younger age, where possible.

Most surgical options focus on penile reconstruction and fat removal. The procedure may involve:

  • detaching and manipulating the ligaments that connect the base of the penis to the pubic bone
  • exposing the buried penis
  • repairing any skin damage, which may involve degloving and removing any diseased skin and then performing a skin graft to the shaft of the penis
  • performing a panniculectomy, which removes the pannus — the excess tissue and skin hanging over the genitals and thighs
  • carrying out an escutheonectomy, which removes the fat pad just above the pubic area
  • using an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, to remove excess fat and skin from the stomach area
  • performing a suprapubic lipectomy to remove fat from under the skin in the area around the penis

In addition to surgery, a person may require treatments for any associated health conditions. These treatments could include medications to treat any infections and therapy to address sexual dysfunction or mental health complications.

A buried penis is a medical condition in which the phallus is a standard size but is less visible due to excess skin and fat. The condition may be present at birth, but people can also acquire it later in life as a result of obesity, inflammation, unsuccessful surgery, or trauma.

When the penis becomes obscured, this can affect its functionality, which may result in difficulty with urination and sexual satisfaction. It may also increase the risk of infections and negatively affect a person’s mental health. A doctor can typically diagnose a buried penis by performing a physical exam.

The treatment for a buried penis will usually involve some form of surgery to make the penis more prominent by removing excess tissue and performing penile reconstruction.