What is a circumcision?

A circumcision is the removal of the excess skin at the end of the penis (foreskin).  In the United States, many newborn circumcisions are performed as an elective procedure before the baby leaves the hospital.

Should my son be circumcised?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement in 2005, reporting information from studies of both circumcised and uncircumcised males and found the following:

  1. Problems with the penis such as irritation can occur with or without circumcision.
  2. There should be no difference in hygiene, as long as proper care is followed.
  3. There may or may not be difference in sexual sensation or practices in adult men.
  4. There is an increased risk of urinary tract infection in uncircumcised males, especially in babies younger than 1 year of age. However, the risk for urinary tract infections in all boys is less than 1 percent.
  5. Newborn circumcision does provide some protection from cancer of the penis. However, the overall risk of penis cancer is very low in developed countries, such as the United States.

The AAP does note some health benefits related to circumcisions, but these reasons are not sufficient to mandate circumcision nation wide.  The AAP denotes that the physician should give the parents the risks and benefits of the circumcision and allow the parent to make the decision.

Most boys will do fine with or without a circumcision as long as they practice good personal hygiene.  Occasionally, a circumcision will become medically necessary to treat or avoid problems in the future.

Most families chose to circumcise their child due to cultural, religious or personal choice.  This type of circumcision is defined as an elective circumcision.  

What is done during a circumcision?

Circumcision is an outpatient procedure that involves the removal of the extra foreskin from the penis.  This is done using a surgical knife.  The amount of skin removed is dependent on the length of the penis and amount of foreskin.  The goal is to leave the correct amount of foreskin so the glans (head of penis) is exposed.  (Many well fed babies have a fat pad which engulfs the base of the penis. In these cases, the foreskin may partially or even completely cover the glans of the penis which is retracted in the fat pad.  This will usually correct itself as your son?s penis grows and the baby fat disappears.)

After the foreskin is removed, the edges of the skin are placed together using dissolvable suture or surgical glue.  The sutures, if present, will dissolve on their own after one to two weeks.

Where will the circumcision be performed?

The child will be put to sleep with general anesthesia for the procedure.  This can only be done in a hospital operating room.