What is Circumcision?

Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove excess foreskin from the penis. Elective circumcision is performed in about 65% of newborn boys in the U.S., often performed for religious or cultural reasons. The procedure is typically performed in the hospital one or two days after birth, or before the mother and baby go home. 

For newborns, circumcision is performed under a local nerve block to minimize discomfort. 

Who Performs a Circumcision?

For a newborn, circumcision can be performed by:

  • The mother's obstetrician
  • A pediatrician or neonatologist 
  • A pediatric urologist (especially when circumcision is performed on older male children)


How Circumcision is Performed

Physicians use a Plastibell or other device to perform circumcision in routine cases. Under sterile conditions, the skin of the penis is numbed with medication injected into the nerves around the penis. Then, the foreskin is pulled back to expose the entire head of the penis. The correct sized device is then secured and the excess skin is trimmed. 

Immediately following the procedure your doctor will return your baby to your arms so that you may provide comfort or breastfeed to calm your baby down. 


What to Expect Following the Procedure

The end of the penis will typically become red, then develop a yellow discharge and finally, scab over (similar to how a skinned knee might heal). This is the normal healing process and will continue to progress over the 7-14 days post procedure.  

If a plastic ring has been used for the procedure, it typically falls off at about 7-14 days. 


Caring for the Circumcised Penis

  • Parents should apply ointment, such as A&D or Vaseline, to the penis two to three times per day for the first month following the procedure. 
  • Keep the area dry. Only sponge baths should be given until the ring falls off. If your baby's penis becomes soiled, gently rinse it off and pat dry. 
  • Watch for any signs of infection such as a green/white drainage and redness extending from the shaft of the penis up on to the belly wall.
  • Call your pediatrician or your surgeon immediately if you notice any sign of infection. 

Benefits vs. Risks

  • Circumcision is not medically necessary, contrary to popular belief.
  • Uncircumcised penises are as easy to keep clean as a circumcised penis when proper hygiene is practiced. 
  • Circumcision may decrease incidences of urinary tract infection and may offer protection against penile cancer. 
  • Circumcision does carry a small risk of infection and bleeding.
  • In rare cases, a circumcision may need to be revised for various reasons after initial healing.


Learn more about circumcision revision here