Circumcision Surgery: Procedures, Benefits, Risks, and Recovery

circumcision surgery

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves removing the foreskin; the skin that covers the head of the penis. It is a common practice for newborn boys in various parts of the world. While circumcision can also be performed later in life, it carries greater risks and may involve a longer recovery period.

Circumcision is typically performed in a hospital setting and is considered relatively uncomplicated with minimal associated risks. While there has been ongoing discussion about the medical necessity and potential health benefits of circumcision in recent years, healthcare professionals generally concur that the advantages of the procedure outweigh any potential drawbacks.

Circumcision- The Procedure

The circumcision procedure typically begins with cleaning and numbing the penis using a numbing cream or injection. A ring or clamp is then placed on the penis, and the doctor removes the foreskin. Afterward, petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment is applied, and the area is wrapped with gauze. For older children and adults, general anesthesia may be used. The process takes about 5 to 10 minutes for newborns and about an hour for older individuals. Circumcisions are usually performed by pediatricians, obstetricians, family medicine doctors, surgeons, or urologists, and there are various techniques, such as the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell device, and the Mogen clamp, each designed to prevent bleeding during the procedure.

  • The Gomco clamp is a surgical device that is used in circumcision procedures. It offers the benefit of a protective steel bell that safeguards the glans penis during the procedure, as well as the advantage of leaving behind no foreign body at the site afterward.
  • In the Plastibell technique, a tight ligature is wrapped around the foreskin and pulled over a grooved plastic ring called the ‘Plastibell.’ The skin beyond the ligature is removed. The ligature causes a circular area of tissue death due to lack of blood supply, and the Plastibell falls off within a few days.
  • The Mogen clamp procedure is quick, with minimal bleeding and a low risk of infection post-circumcision. It involves numbing the area, extending the foreskin, placing the Mogen clamp, and cutting the skin fold with a surgical scalpel. Sutures may be needed for older kids or adults.

Benefits of Circumcision

Circumcision can have can provide several benefits, a circumcised penis is easier to clean and maintain and can contribute to overall penis health. Other potential medical benefits of circumcision include:

  • Maintenance of genital hygiene: Circumcision can simplify penis hygiene, as it makes it easier to clean the area.
  • Lower risk of urinary tract infections: The likelihood of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in males is generally low. However, these infections are more prevalent in uncircumcised males. Severe infections during infancy can potentially result in long-term health issues.
  • Decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections: Men who have undergone circumcision may have a reduced likelihood of contracting certain sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV. Nevertheless, it is important to practice safe sex, which involves the use of condoms.
  • Prevents foreskin-related conditions: It helps prevent certain conditions related to the foreskin, such as the inability to retract it (phimosis), the inability to return it to its original position after retracting (paraphimosis), inflammation of the foreskin and glans (balanitis), and infections.
  • Decrease the risk of penile cancer: Cancer of the penis is rare, especially in men who have undergone circumcision.

Risks Associated with Circumcision Procedure

The success rate of circumcision is high and the procedure is generally considered relatively uncomplicated with minimal associated risks. But it’s a surgical procedure, and it can carry some risks such as

  • Pain in the panis
  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding in the incision
  • Irritation on the tip of the penis
  • Inflammation
  • Cutting inappropriate length of foreskin
  • Narrowing of the opening tip of the penis

The Recovery & Aftercare of Circumcision

After a circumcision surgery, the penis typically heals within eight to ten days for babies. The recovery time for adults is generally higher, it can take two to three weeks to heal. Initially, the tip of the penis may be sore, and the penis may appear swollen, bruised, and red. A small amount of yellow fluid on the tip is also common. If a plastic ring has been used instead of a bandage, it will likely fall off on its own within a week. Remember to clean the area with plain water at least once a day. Let the area air dry, and then apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to prevent irritation. For adults, applying petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the tip of the penis can prevent it from sticking to underwear. Wearing loose-fitting clothing for 2 or 3 days after the operation will also help prevent irritation while the penis heals. After the penis has healed, it can be washed with soap and water during a bath.