We have a lot of ideas as a society about what genitals “should” look like, but quite honestly, we made them all up. A vagina or a penis can look a million different ways, and none of them are particularly “normal.” The innie, hidden or buried penis is one example. You can be born with a hidden penis or it can develop later in life, and there are multiple different issues and conditions that can produce it. But what exactly is an innie penis?
Well, you can probably guess: It’s a penis that has essentially been sucked inside the body. Despite some misconceptions, it’s not a micro-penis. Innie penises are within the “normal range” of penis size, but the penis itself is hidden within the pelvis. For lack of a better descriptor, they look like the hole-end of those slippery water tube squeeze toys filled with glitter you might have played with as a kid. Except, fleshy and probably painful.
There isn’t much data about how often they occur in adults, though data from Japan found that it occurred in less than four percent of infants born there. According to a report published in Translational Andrology and Urology in 2018, innie penises in adults are the “clinical manifestation of a wide spectrum of pathology due to a variety of etiologies.” Basically, they’re the symptom of many different possible problems. Among those problems are obesity, looseness in the connective tissue and multiple skin conditions that impact the genitals. Of note, hidden penises can also occur from complications of penile/scrotal enlargement surgery.
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Rather predictably, hidden penis itself can cause a number of physically and psychologically damaging side effects. Due to the nature of the condition, people with an innie penis often struggle with hygiene and urination, causing urethral infections and skin breakdown. Per the report, clinical depression has been observed in the majority of patients with hidden penis, often linked to the inability to have penetrative intercourse.
Fortunately, innie penis is typically fixable with surgery. Though obesity can cause it, losing weight doesn’t always solve the problem in its entirety for men who develop a buried penis as a result. As such, most cases, regardless of cause, will require surgery to be resolved. The surgery itself can be complicated — some men don’t have enough scrotal skin and require a graft, while others may need procedures that specifically address the urethra. Considering the varying causes of innie penises, the specifics of the surgery vary, as well.
As the report states, “In general, repair of buried penis involves unburying the penis, resection of any diseased or excess tissue, tacking tissue down to reform the penopubic angle, and coverage with either local skin flaps or skin grafts.” Regardless, it’s well worth it: Even with wound complications, most patients report a significant increase in their quality of life following surgery. However scary the surgery may be, it’s a fair trade for no longer having your penis painfully absorbed into your body.