Circumcision is a surgery to remove the skin covering the end of the penis, called the foreskin. This surgery is most often done 1 or 2 days after a baby boy’s birth. Circumcision can also be done on older boys, although this can be more complex. An older boy may need medicine (general anesthesia) to put him to sleep during the procedure.
If you are considering circumcision for your child, ARC Pediatricians are available to perform the procedure, as well as answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
Benefits & risks of circumcision
Circumcision is an elective procedure, which means you can choose to have your child circumcised or not. It's helpful to decide before your baby is born. In some cultures, circumcision is a religious practice or a tradition, most common in Jewish and Islamic faiths.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), benefits and risks of circumcision include:
- Circumcision has some risks, but the rate of problems is low. The most common risks are bleeding and infection. The area can get irritated from contact with the baby’s diaper or with the ammonia in urine. This can be treated by putting petroleum jelly on the penis for a few days.
- There is a higher risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) in uncircumcised boys. This is more so in babies younger than 1 year old. But the risk for UTI in all boys is less than 1%.
- Newborn circumcision does give some protection from cancer of the penis later in life. But the overall risk of penile cancer is very low in developed countries, such as the U.S.
- Circumcised boys and men have a lower risk for some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
What happens during circumcision?
The procedure is usually done in the hospital. When it's done for religious reasons, other people may do the surgery after the baby comes home from the hospital.
Circumcision is done only on healthy babies. It is recommended to use a local anesthetic as it is painful; anesthetic helps numb the area of the penis where the incision will be made. The procedure takes about 15 minutes.
What happens after circumcision?
After the circumcision, you will need to care for your baby’s penis until it heals. This includes cleaning the area with plain water at least once a day. You will also need to clean it if the area is dirty after a bowel movement. Then let the area dry, and put petroleum jelly on it. This keeps the gauze dressing from sticking.
A baby’s penis usually fully heals from a circumcision in 7 to 10 days.
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your baby has any of the following:
- Wound that doesn’t stop bleeding
- No urine 6 to 8 hours after the procedure
- Redness or swelling that doesn’t get better after 3 days, or gets worse
- Yellow discharge or yellow coating on the penis after 7 days