Total Penectomy

This is an operation to remove the whole of the penis. The urethra will be surgically reshaped to form a special urinary drainage passage called a perineal urethrostomy. This will mean that men will need to sit down on a toilet to pass urine. The sensation or need to pass urine will not be affected and men will have control of urination.
It’s very important that men discuss this surgery with their specialist health care team to ensure that they know exactly what to expect after the operation. If men feel that they may need counselling before or after the operation they should ask their specialist team to arrange this for them. The operation is likely to take several hours to complete.

After surgery

  • Painkillers will be given on a regular basis. It is important that painkillers are taken regularly as prescribed and not just when pain is felt.
  • The site of the operation will have a wound dressing over it which will also cover the scrotum. This will usually be removed after 2 – 3 days. Doctors and nurses will check the dressings and the wound site regularly.
  • When men do resume normal bathing they should pat the wound dry with a clean towel or gauze and avoid any material that may leave fibres on the area.
  • Excess blood or fluid can sometimes gather at the operation site and a small plastic tube(s) called a wound drain(s) will be inserted during the operation. This will allow unwanted substances to drain naturally and healing to take place. The wound drain(s) will be usually be removed after 24 hours.
  • Men will need to take things easy for 4 – 6 weeks after surgery and avoid any strenuous activity such as heavy lifting/ shopping and gardening while the wound heals. They may need to wear anti embolism stockings (anti blood clot stockings) to protect the circulation in their legs during and for some time after the operation. Blood thinning medication may also be administered.
  • Stitches will be dissolvable but may take 4 – 6 weeks to fully disperse.
  • A community nurse can visit men at home and check that the operation site remains clean and healthy.
  • Men will have a urinary catheter (urine drainage tube) which will usually need to remain in place for up to 14 days.
  • A minimum of 4 weeks off work will be needed after the operation.
  • An appointment will usually be made after a few weeks to check that the operation site is healing and to discuss the results of the operation and whether any further treatment may be needed.


  • Always ask the healthcare team exactly what the surgery will involve and what to expect after the operation.
  • Plan ahead with regard to time off work and allowing for the healing process.

Men should contact their healthcare team if they experience any of the following:

  • Persistent bleeding from the wound.
  • Uncontrolled pain.
  • A high temperature and shaking or feeling as if they have a bad cold which could be a sign of infection.
  • Prolonged swelling, redness or a foul smelling discharge from around the wound site which could indicate localised infection.
  • Difficulty in passing urine.


To read personal stories of men who have been affected and treated for penile cancer please click here

Reviewed March 2021. Next review 2022.


References available on request.

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