Circumcision: Preparation, Procedure, and Pros and Cons

circumcision surgery

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, which is the skin covering the head (called the glans) of the penis. It is a common practice worldwide; the rate is approximately 33% in males. The highest rates are in the United States, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Korea. According to recent studies, it is much less common in Europe, other parts of Asia, and South America. 

The procedure is typically done on newborn boys for personal or religious reasons. Mainly, Jewish and Muslim people perform circumcision on their newborn boys as part of their religions. However, there is no medical need for circumcision in healthy newborn boys. Still, families may choose their son to be circumcised. 

The procedure can also be performed on older children and adults. Generally, most circumcisions are completed within the first ten days (often within the first 48 hours) of a baby’s life. For adults, circumcision can be performed at any time during a person’s life. Additionally, older children or adults may need circumcision to treat several medical conditions, including:

  • Balanitis (swelling of the foreskin)
  • Balanoposthitis (inflammation of the foreskin and the head of the penis)
  • Paraphimosis (inability to return a retracted foreskin to its normal anatomic position)
  • Phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin)

How to Prepare for Circumcision

Circumcision in Newborn

The pediatrician mainly conducts the surgery, but the family doctor, surgeon, or obstetrician may also do it. If the procedure is performed on the newborn, the parents must sign a consent form.

The procedure is usually performed in a hospital or surgery center on an outpatient basis for older children and adults. After the surgery, you would go home on the same day of the circumcision. 

Circumcision in Adults

After the initial appointments, the surgeon will give you instructions before the procedure. A member of your surgeon’s staff will contact you via phone or appointment letter to go over your scheduled arrival time and any other instructions.

These instructions will include medications you should take or stop before the procedure and when you should stop consuming food and liquids.

Circumcision Procedure

Newborn Circumcision Surgery Procedure

During the procedure, the surgeon will sanitize the penis area with an antiseptic before giving a numbing injection at the base of the penis of the baby to reduce discomfort. Sometimes, doctors may opt for a pain-relieving cream or provide pain medication to the infant.

A clamp or ring will be applied to the penis to remove the foreskin. Following the procedure, the area will be treated with a topical antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly and subsequently wrapped with gauze. Usually, the procedure will be over in 20 minutes.

There are several techniques for performing circumcision. The three primary methods of circumcision are the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell technique, and the Mogen clamp. Each one works by removing (cutting off) the circulation to the foreskin to prevent bleeding.

Adult Circumcision Surgery Procedure

Adult and newborn circumcision are similar procedures. Depending on the patient’s preferences, they may receive general or more localized anesthesia. Adult circumcisions are performed by urologists using one of two techniques, the Dorsal slit technique or the Sleeve technique. 

After the foreskin is removed, you’ll get stitches along the incision that will dissolve within about 8-10 days. Adult circumcision takes about an hour. It comes with a higher risk and complications than newborn circumcision.

Pros and Cons of Circumcision

The decision to circumcise is ideally made by parents or, later on, by himself. Medical professionals can help parents better understand the advantages and potential risks involved.

Contrary to certain misconceptions, circumcision does not impact male fertility, and findings from limited studies on its influence on sexual pleasure are inconclusive. While some studies report no discernible effect, others suggest heightened sensitivity.

Outlined below are the merits and drawbacks of male circumcision:

Pros of Circumcision:

  • Reduces the risk of urinary tract infections in infancy.
  • It likely diminishes the risk of penile cancer, although this cancer is uncommon, and its decline may be unrelated to circumcision.
  • Decreases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including the transmission of HIV from females to males.
  • Lowers the risk of cervical cancer and certain infections in female partners.
  • Prevents conditions such as balanitis, balanoposthitis, paraphimosis, and phimosis.
  • Facilitates easier maintenance of good genital hygiene.

Cons of Circumcision:

  • It may be perceived as disfigurement by some people.
  • It may cause pain, although safe and effective medications can help to reduce discomfort.
  • Yields few immediate health benefits.
  • It may result in rare complications, including improper length or shortness of the foreskin, inadequate healing, bleeding, or infection.


Circumcision involves the removal of the foreskin from the tip of the penis. It is one of the most widely practiced and safe surgical procedures for newborns, older children, and adults. The recovery period from circumcision surgery typically spans 8-10 days, during which the healing penis may appear swollen and red. A yellow film may be noticeable at the tip.