Circumcision is the elective surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.

How is it done?

  • Your obstetrician will perform the circumcision before the BABY leaves the hospital, usually one to two days after birth.
  • Your obstetrician will numb the penis with local anesthesia before the procedure starts. The numbing medicine may be injected at the base of the penis, or applied as a cream.
  • There are a variety of ways to perform a circumcision. Most commonly, the foreskin is pushed from the head of the penis and clamped with a metal clamp or ring-likeDEVICE. The foreskin is cut off and the metal device is removed. The wound heals in 5-7 days.
  • The baby may be given a sweetened pacifier during the procedure. Tylenol (acetaminophen) may be given afterward.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Circumcision is performed in healthy boys for cultural or religious reasons. In the United States, a newborn boy is usually circumcised before he leaves the hospital. Jewish boys, however, are circumcised when they are 8 days old.

In other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and South and Central America, circumcision is rare in the general population.

The merits of circumcision have been debated. Opinions about the need for circumcision in healthy boys vary among health care providers. Some believe there is great value to having an intact foreskin, such as allowing for a more natural sexual response during adulthood.

Rather than routinely recommending circumcision for healthy boys, many health care providers allow the parents to make the decision after presenting them with the pros and cons.

Risks related to circumcision:

  • Infection
  • Redness around the surgery site
  • Injury to the penis

Risks related to uncircumcised male infants:

The overall increased risk for these conditions is thought to be relatively small. Proper hygiene of the penis and safe sexual practices can help prevent many of these conditions. Proper hygiene is always important, but is thought to be especially important for uncircumcised males.

Newer research has suggested that uncircumcised male infants have an increased risk of certain conditions, including:

  • Cancer of the penis
  • Certain sexually transmitted diseases including HIV
  • Infections of the penis
  • Phimosis (tightness of the foreskin that prevents it from retracting)
  • Urinary tract infections

After the Procedure

Healing time for newborns after circumcision usually is about 1 week. Place petroleum jelly (Vaseline) onto the area after changing the diaper. This helps protect the healing area. Some swelling and yellow crust formation around the site is normal.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Circumcision is considered a very safe procedure for newborns.