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How To Remove a Zipper From a Penis

By

Paul H. Chung

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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Topic Resources

Entrapment of penile skin within a zipper, either within the sliding mechanism or between the zipper teeth, or both, is relieved by cutting the sliding mechanism in half using a wire cutter or bone cutter, or by isolating and gently separating the involved zipper segment. Attempts to unzip the zipper may damage the entrapped skin. Sometimes surgery to excise the involved skin may be needed.

Indications

  • Entrapment of foreskin, penile skin, or scrotal skin within a zipper

Contraindications

Absolute contraindications

  • None

Relative contraindications

  • None

Complications

Complications may include

  • Damage to skin

  • Penile laceration

Edema, due to delay of treatment, may make the procedure more difficult and increase risk of tissue damage and necrosis.

Equipment

  • Antiseptic cleanser (eg, povidone iodine)

  • Mineral oil

  • Heavy-duty wire cutter or bone cutter

  • Sturdy shears, to cut through trouser material and across the zipper

  • Small (eg, Iris) scissors, to cut the zipper cloth between specific zipper teeth, if necessary, to remove them individually

  • Topical anesthetic cream or local anesthetic without epinephrine (eg, 1 or 2% lidocaine and a 25- or 27-gauge needle and about a 3-mL syringe)

Additional Considerations

  • This condition is painful, and patients also may be frightened and embarrassed. Calm reassurance is usually adequate to allow the procedure to be done. Occasionally mild sedation may be helpful.

Positioning

  • Position the patient supine. To facilitate positioning, first use a bandage scissors, if necessary, to cut through the trousers peripherally around the zipper, which will relieve painful traction forces on the site and permit trouser removal.

Step-by-Step Description of Procedure

Zipper removal from penile skin

Zipper removal from penile skin

If these measures fail or are not feasible:

  • Obtain urologic consultation for possible elliptical skin excision or emergency circumcision.

Aftercare

  • Control bleeding with gentle local pressure.

  • Clean the site with warm water and soap.

  • Apply antibiotic ointment (eg, bacitracin) and wrap loosely in sterile gauze.

Warnings and Common Errors

  • Stop trying to unzip the zipper if one attempt is unsuccessful.

Tips and Tricks

  • Obtain and store appropriate sturdy cutters in a convenient location in advance as they may not be readily available otherwise.

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