Circumcision is a surgery to remove the skin covering the end of the penis, called the foreskin. This surgery is 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) during the procedure.
If you are considering circumcision for your child, ARC pediatricians are available to perform the procedure and 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.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the benefits and risks of circumcision include the following:
- Circumcision has some risks, but the rate of problems is low. The most common risks are bleeding and infection. The infant’s penis can get irritated from contact with the baby’s diaper or 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. 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 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 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.
You will be given post-circumcision care instructions after the procedure.
A baby’s penis usually heals fully from a circumcision in 7 to 10 days.
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your baby has any of the following:
- A wound that doesn’t stop bleeding
- No urine 6 to 8 hours after the procedure
- Redness or swelling that doesn’t get better after three days or gets worse
- Yellow discharge or yellow coating on the penis after seven days