Richard Baker Weekly Blog

What is Buried Penis Syndrome?

Obesity causes many problems including arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and difficulty exercising, but in men it causes another problem that is rarely talked about – buried penis syndrome. This occurs in men who put on weight because the fat underneath the skin pushes the skin outwards to eventually bury the penis, which is attached to the underlying bone of the pelvis and therefore cannot expand outwards with the skin. The problem can reach such a point that men can no longer see their own penis. It makes passing urine difficult with dribbling and this can lead to another condition called balanitis. It is thickening and tightening of the foreskin and the end of the penis (or glans) as well as narrowing of the water pipe. It predisposes to cancer of the penis but also, because of the increased pressure required to pass water, leads to problems with the kidneys.

Buried penis syndrome is usually reversed if the patient loses weight; however, sometimes if the weight loss has been significant or prolonged, the ligaments that attach the skin to the underlying tissues become stretched, so the skin stays in a stretched position even after weight loss. It also effects sexual performance as the penis is shortened and may become tender. This can affect relationships and self-esteem. However, there is little awareness or discussion of this problem by patients or doctors. I suspect many men are affected by it as such a high proportion of people in the country are now overweight or obese and there is likely to be an unmet need for treatment. The procedure I prefer to treat involves making an incision in the abdomen just above the pubic hairline and lifting the skin off the deeper tissues, removing the underlying fat and then stitching that skin back down to the underlying tissues, thus revealing the underlying penis. Sometimes it is necessary to perform a circumcision (removal of foreskin) if the foreskin has developed balanitis or reconstruction of the water pipe if this has also become tightened. I think this condition is much like erectile dysfunction was in the past in that it was a common complaint amongst men that was rarely talked about and for which there was little in the way of treatment. However, I think with greater awareness more men will come forward for treatment, and it is a procedure that I now offer in my practice.

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