by Sarah J. Kerr, BA
Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. The foreskin is a sheath of skin that covers the tip of the penis.
Reasons for Procedure
Circumcision may be done for cultural or religious reasons. It is usually done during the first few days of life. Circumcision may be done on older boys as a treatment for medical problems. Problems may include foreskin that is too tight or foreskin that cannot retract.
Circumcision may be associated with a decreased risk of:
Talk to your doctor about the risk and benefits of circumcision for your child.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Talk to the doctor about these risks before the circumcision.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your child will have a physical exam. The penis will be examined for any abnormalities. Your child may also need blood and urine tests done.
Your child may not be able to eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. Ask your doctor when your child should stop eating and drinking.
General anesthesia will be used. It will be given through an IV or inhaled. Your child will be asleep for the entire procedure.
Description of Procedure
The anesthesia will be given. After your child is asleep, the foreskin will be pulled away from the penis. The foreskin may have some areas attached to the head of the penis. The doctor will cut these attachments. The excess foreskin will then be cut away. If needed, stitches may be placed to stop bleeding.
Petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment will be smeared on the penis. A bandage may be applied.
Immediately After Procedure
Your child will be monitored in a recovery room.
How Long Will It Take?
Less than one hour
How Much Will It Hurt?
Your child will have some discomfort. Anesthesia will help block pain. Your child's doctor may recommend medication to manage discomfort after the circumcision.
There may be swelling of the penis. A clear scab may also develop over the area. The penis should heal within 7-10 days of the circumcision.
It is important to keep your child’s penis clean while the circumcision heals. Follow these steps to promote good healing:
Your child may have some discomfort while urinating for the first few days. Use pain medication as prescribed.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Paediatric Society
Blank S, Brady M, Buerk E. Circumcision policy statement. American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3):585-586.
The circumcised penis. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthy... . Updated March 29, 2013. Accessed May 13, 2013.
Circumcision. American Academy of Family Physicians' FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydocto... . Updated December 2010. Accessed March 13, 2013.
Circumcision. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthy... . Updated May 2, 2013. Accessed May 13, 2013.
Circumcision. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 9, 2013. Accessed May 13, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2013