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Why is circumcision done?

Circumcision is one of the oldest operations performed. Sometimes it is done because a specific problem with the foreskin (prepuce) exists, and other times it is done for family, cultural, or religious reasons. Although routine circumcision was once advocated for all newborn males, the current feeling is that it is not necessary for all baby boys. Most boys will do fine later in life if their foreskins are not removed. A few may eventually need circumcision because of narrowing at the tip (phimosis), infections (posthitis), or irritation. The foreskin may be a source for urinary tract infections, and circumcision may be a good idea in boys with any underlying kidney abnormality

How do you care for the uncircumcised penis?

Care of the uncircumcised infant is easy. We do not recommend pulling back on the foreskin to expose the tip of the penis (glans penis). As the boy gets older, the natural processes of erections and accumulation of old skin remnants between the inner foreskin and glans cause the foreskin to eventually separate from the tip of the penis. By age 5-6 years the foreskin should pull back easily, but it is not until puberty that it is necessary for boys to pull the foreskin back daily to clean the penis.

When is circumcision recommended?

Circumcision may be indicated for certain medical reasons: vesicoureteral reflux, kidney or bladder infections, posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin), or true phimosis (narrowing of the foreskin). Parents for family, cultural, or religious reasons may request circumcision. Although circumcision is often done shortly after birth, the procedure may be delayed for certain reasons:

  • the newborn infant may be too ill, in which case an elective circumcision when the infant is well can be arranged
  • the infant may have an abnormality of the penis such as hypospadias or chordee, in which case the foreskin should be left in place for use in later reconstructive surgery

Where is circumcision done?

In very young babies circumcision can be performed in the clinic with local anesthesia and a clamp. In older infants and children general anesthesia is preferable.

How is the penis cared for after circumcision?

We suggest antibiotic ointment or Vaseline be applied to the glans with every diaper change after circumcision. We like to see the patient 2-4 weeks after circumcision.

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This information, although based on a thorough knowledge and careful review of current medical literature, is the opinion of doctors at The University of Texas Medical School and is presented to inform you about surgical conditions. It is not meant to contradict any information you may receive from your personal physician and should not be used to make decisions about surgical treatment. If you have any questions about the information above or your child's care, please contact our doctors.