A buried, or hidden, penis is partially or completely concealed beneath the scrotum or excess skin or fat in the pubic area. Typically, a buried penis is of normal size and function. In a significantly buried penis, the shaft and head may not be visible at all. In most cases, buried penis is a cosmetic issue, not a medical one, but psychological effects can result.
Occasionally, circumcision can leave a scar around the head of the penis. In these cases, urine may collect under the scar, stretching the skin and leading to infection or urinary issues like daytime wetting or dribbling. This medical problem can be corrected.
What Causes a Buried Penis?
A buried penis can occur whenever too much — or not enough — of a boy’s foreskin has been removed during circumcision, changing the external contours of the penis. The remaining skin may be pulled forward, covering all or part of the penis. In other cases, the ligaments that anchor the penis to the body are too lax. Obesity or an extra-large fat pad covering the boy’s pubic area can also contribute to buried penis.
How Is a Buried Penis Diagnosed?
Our diagnosis is based on a visual inspection and a physical exam, and no imaging or laboratory tests are necessary. We will assess how much skin is available to use in redoing your child’s circumcision, as well as how effectively the penis’s skin attaches to its deeper structures. We will also examine the angle at which the deeper ligaments attach the penis to the body.
What Is the Treatment for a Buried Penis?
Correcting a buried penis involves surgery. The precise surgery we recommend depends on what factors caused your child’s buried penis. We may need to remove excess skin, tighten the penis’s connection to its deeper internal structures or refine the angles of the penile/scrotal junction. In rare instances, if too much skin was removed during circumcision, we may need to do a skin graft. You can expect this outpatient surgery to last between 60 and 90 minutes. You can expect excellent results cosmetically in about 3-6 weeks.
It is also possible that skin adhesions can develop, preventing the penis from moving freely within its skin. Adhesions can be uncomfortable but usually resolve when a steroid cream is applied regularly.