Circumcision is a minor surgical procedure performed on males that removes the foreskin, the skin that covers the tip of the penis. At your request your doctor may perform it on your male newborn shortly after birth, after you have signed a consent form giving your permission.

Why are circumcisions performed?

Most parents choose to have a circumcision performed for cultural or religious reasons. There are some medical benefits attributed to circumcision, including decreased risk of urinary tract infections, decreased risk of passing on sexually transmitted diseases as an adult, and decreased risk of cancer of the penis. In addition, a small percentage of males will require circumcision later in life for chronic infection if it has not been done previously. It may be possible, however, to achieve many of these same benefits by a regular program of hygiene, which later in childhood involves retracting the foreskin to wash the tip of the penis. (The foreskin may not retract before age 3-4 years and this should not be forced as injury may result.)

What are the risks?

Although problems are rare, they can occur. Some of the risks include bleeding, infection, and injury to the penis, scrotum or the opening through which urine flows (urethra). Let your doctor know if you have a family history of bleeding problems.

How is circumcision done?

The baby is usually not fed just before the procedure, as keeping the stomach empty helps prevent spitting up. The infant lies on a special board and the penis is cleansed with an antiseptic solution. There are then various techniques for the actual removal of the foreskin. A Vaseline-covered gauze is placed on the penis to prevent it from sticking to the diaper.

How do I care for the circumcision site?

  • The gauze and Vaseline needs to be changed each time the baby urinates for the first few days. You may see slight staining on the gauze for the first several hours. If unexpected bleeding occurs, call your doctor.
  • Any thick yellow or green discharge coming from the tip of the penis may indicate a problem and your doctor should be notified.
  • If your baby has not urinated in 8-12 hours after the circumcision, call your doctor

Ask your doctor or nurse if you have any questions about circumcision.

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