Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis is removed. Circumcision is not essential to a child’s health so parents should choose what is best for their child by looking at the benefits and risks.

What is circumcision?

At birth, boys have skin that covers the end of the penis, called foreskin. Circumcision surgically removes the foreskin, exposing the tip of the penis. A doctor usually performs circumcision in the first few days of life. An infant must be stable and healthy to be circumcised. Many parents choose to have their sons circumcised because “all the other men in the family were circumcised” or because they do not want their son to feel “different.” Others feel that circumcisions is unnecessary and choose not to have it done. Since circumcision may be more risky if done later in life, parents may want to decide before or soon after their son is born if they want their son circumcised.

Is circumcision painful?

When done without pain medicine, circumcision is painful.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that some safe and effective medication be used to reduce pain from circumcision. Local anesthetics can be injected into the penis to lower pain and stress in infants. There are also topical creams that can help. Talk to your pediatrician about which pain medicine is best for your son. Problems with using pain medicine are rare and usually not serious.

What should I expect for my son after circumcision?

After the circumcision, the tip of the penis may seem raw or yellowish. If there is a bandage, it should be changed with each diapering to reduce the risk of the penis becoming infected. Petroleum jelly should be used to keep the bandage from sticking. Sometimes a plastic ring is used instead of a bandage. The plastic ring that is left on the tip of the penis usually drops off within 5-8 days. It takes about 1 week to 10 days for the penis to fully heal after circumcision.

Are there any problems that can happen after circumcision?

Problems after a circumcision are very rare. However, call your pediatrician right away if:

  • Your baby doesn’t urinate normally within 6-8 hours after the circumcision
  • There is persistent bleeding
  • There is redness around the tip of the penis that gets worse after 3-5 days.

It is normal to have a little yellow discharge or coating around the head of the penis, but this should not last longer than a week.