Circumcision Of Baby Boy: Procedure, Risks & Care

Baby Circumcision: Benefits, Procedure & Care

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Mahesh Patil (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Parents are ecstatic with the entry of a newborn in their family. Along with the several joys that parents experience, it is also a heavy responsibility that they need to carry out. Most experienced parents say that it is a 20-year project that needs proper planning, care, and effective steps right from the time a baby is born.

What Is Circumcision?

Boys are born with a hood of skin covering the tip of their penis. The skin covering the head or tip of the penis is called prepuce or foreskin, and the tip of the penis is called glans. Thus, circumcision is a process that involves removing the foreskin of a baby boy. This process is done to expose the tip of a penis. The foreskin has a mucous membrane and it is a double layer of the skin fold. It acts as a protection for the child’s penis because it is one of the natural protection against dryness and also irritation that might be caused by pee or poo.

How Common Is Baby Circumcision?

Baby circumcision is a common practice across the globe and is in existence from Biblical times. Statistics show that it is more common in Jews and the Muslim people in accordance with their religious requirements. However, in our times the circumcision rates have fallen in the UK compared to the other parts of the world because health experts believe that there is no need for it unless there is a medical condition. So now in most cases, it is the call of doctors on whether or not to go for circumcision.

Circumcision is a common practice in Canada, the United States, and also in the Middle East.

Making the Right Decision

Should I circumcise my baby? Did this question come up in your mind? If yes, then it is important to understand several different aspects here and then take a call on the same. You need to compare the benefits and risks and then decide whether you want to circumcise your baby. However, if there is a medical condition that requires you to get your son circumcised, it is best to take this decision now when the child will not experience as much pain as it will be after growing up.

Why Some Parents Choose to Have Their Sons Circumcised

There are several reasons for parents to have their sons circumcised. Apart from cultural and religious beliefs, there are also several health benefits that make some parents take this decision for their children. In most cases, the circumcision is performed on adult men if there is a medical condition but this situation does not come mostly in babies.

Circumcision is a common practice in western countries regardless of the religion of parents. It is considered to be a healthy practice for the baby boy and is believed to avoid problems. There have been several studies conducted regarding this age-old practice and here are some of the benefits according to the various studies. Circumcised boys have reduced risks to health issues such as:

  • Penile cancer
  • Foreskin infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Phimosis ( a common condition with uncircumcised males that makes retraction of foreskin almost impossible)

With uncircumcised men, it’s a common problem because of the accumulation of moisture and dead skin cells called smegma which proves to a good environment for bacterial growth. This increases the risk of infection and also to spread it to others. There are many hygiene-related reasons as to why parents decide on their baby boy to get circumcised. However, the Muslims and Jews perform circumcision on the grounds of their religious faith and cultural beliefs. In some situations, the parents decide to have their sons circumcised because they do not want their son to be different than his brothers or father.

Why Some Parents Choose Not to Have Their Sons Circumcised

In the recent past, the generation has progressed towards independent thinking, decisions, and so on. As a result, this thinking pattern has also affected many parents today. Most of the parents leave the decision to their sons. In earlier days it was believed that removal of foreskin causes decreased sensation at the tip of the penis. Also, there was fear of excessive bleeding, wound infections and narrowing of urinary opening at the tip because of non-surgical methods of circumcision. However, in most of the cases where circumcision is not provided, the parents are scared because of the pain involved in it. It is their little bundle of joy, and the whole idea of causing pain to him is unacceptable for several parents. Some also think that the circumcision can have a huge impact on their sons and so they don’t opt for this resort.

Decided to Circumcise Your Baby Boy? What Next?

Once you decide to circumcise your baby boy, it will also need you to take care of his penis. After the surgery, it becomes more so important because the healing of penis takes a while, and not taking care of it might result in more infection and so on. Make sure that you take in all the information about how the procedure will be carried out, the surgery date, recovery time and so on in order to prepare well. Also prepare your house so that once the baby is back, he gets a clean and hygienic house.

When Is Circumcision Normally Performed?

Normally the procedure is carried out during the first two days of life in majority cases but in Jews, it’s done on the eighth day of life. If your baby is premature, then you will need to wait. On the other hand, even if he is born with a problem to his penis or has bleeding problems then you need to wait as well. Though timing varies according to the religious or medical need, it’s commonly avoided between two years to seven years of life to avoid the development of fear of castration.

The doctor will clearly explain the procedure, risk and benefits of surgery, and a good time to perform it. Once you are satisfied with the doctor’s advice, you can opt for the surgery.

Preparing Your Baby for Circumcision

Usually, there are not a lot of things that you need to do because in most cases the surgery will be performed when the newborn is still in the hospital. There are different medical practitioners needed for the surgery such as the obstetricians and paediatricians. If you decide to have this surgery performed for your newborn then you will need to fill up a consent form. It is only once you fill these, that the surgery will be performed.

When Should a Circumcision Procedure Not Be Performed?

This call mainly depends upon the doctor’s advice. Your doctor may recommend delaying the procedure or may not recommend it depending upon the baby’s condition. Some of the situations would be:

  • The baby is medically unstable or was born prematurely
  • Surgical intervention is needed to correct physical abnormalities in the penis
  • If there are abnormalities in the penis, foreskin might be needed for a reconstructive procedure
  • If there is a known disorder of bleeding tendency.

How Is Circumcision Performed?

If it has been more than a few weeks after the baby was born, then general anaesthesia will be given. The concept of circumcising the baby boy after a few weeks still exists in Scotland. It is a surgical procedure that is carried out by the doctor. This is a minor surgical procedure and does not take much time. If everything goes right, then there is no need for the baby to stay in the hospital overnight. The surgeon will use local anaesthesia to numb the area before surgery is performed. It will either be in the form of an injection that will be given at the base of your baby’s penis or it will be in the form of a cream that will be applied 60-90 minutes before the surgery. These are the procedures used when it is a newborn baby. On the other hand, if it is a Jewish family, then the circumcision is done without any anaesthesia.

Here are the most common methods of circumcision:

1. The Plastibell Method

This is one of the most commonly used methods for circumcision and is used for babies that weight approximately 5.5lbs. In this process, the surgeon uses a clear plastic ring that is placed tightly around the penis head. Suturing is done around the ring to decrease blood flow to the foreskin beyond the ring. Then the foreskin of the baby is removed by cutting it across and then trimming the excess skin that stays beyond the ring. It takes around ten minutes for the procedure to complete and in order to prevent bleeding; the surgeon will keep the plastic ring around the penis’s head. During the healing of the wound, the plastic ring falls of its own generally around six to 12 days after surgery.

2. The Mogen Method

This approach is used for babies who weigh at least 11 lbs. The foreskin is pulled beyond the tip of the penis and passed through a metal clamp with a slit in it. The clamp firmly holds onto the foreskin without cutting it. Then the surgeon cuts the foreskin passed beyond the clamp. The clamp is left in position to avoid excess bleeding. This technique is quick because it will only take half a minute to complete this procedure. Once the bleeding has stopped, nothing will be left in the area during the healing process.

The Mogen Method

3. The Gomco Method

This method is recommended for a baby weighing over 11 lbs. In this method, a probe is used to separate the foreskin from the head of the penis. Then a bell-shaped device is fitted on the head of the penis. The foreskin is pulled over this bell and a clamp is applied to decrease the blood flow to the foreskin. Then the foreskin is cut with a blade or scalpel. Once the foreskin is cut away, the surgeon leaves the clamp on the penis for a few minutes until the bleeding stops, and then puts a bandage on it.

These are three of the most common practices used in the surgical world.

Pros and Cons

The reasons to circumcise a baby son are mostly health-related, and most of the reasons do not play a part until they are older. Doctors can help parents understand the reasons to do it and the risks involved in it. Here are some of the pros and cons:


  • Decreases risk of penile cancer
  • Lower risk of infection of the tip of the penis
  • Lower risk of UTI (Urinary tract infection)
  • Lower risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Helps to easily manage the hygiene of the penis
  • Decreases risk of cervical cancer in female partners


  • It causes pain to the baby boy, but there are medications to reduce this pain
  • This might be considered as disfigurement by some
  • Earlier was considered to reduce the sensations of the tip of the penis.
  • Some of the other complications might be cutting the foreskin too short or too long or chances of infection and bleeding
  • Use of unsterilised instruments can cause a life-threatening infection called tetanus in the baby.

Considering these pros and cons will help parents come to a better conclusion depending on the situation.

What Happens After Performing Circumcision

There may be some redness, swelling or pain after circumcision. As the penis is prone to infection, the parents will need to be extra careful during the initial stage. The care is for a short while because in time the side effects will subside. A pain management tip for you would be to point your baby’s penis in a downward direction while changing the nappies. This action will help to prevent any chaffing or rubbing of the diaper against the glands. This will give some nappy-free time to your baby and also reduce the irritation.

In a normal situation, the wound after surgery should heal in the next seven-ten days. It is not common to experience complications after the surgery. However, if there is a sign of infection or bleeding, do not panic. Take your newborn to the ER and get diagnostics done.

Caring for a Circumcised Baby

Caring for a circumcised baby is not as difficult as it might seem. The baby’s penis is not as fragile as it may seem. Just use warm water to gently clean the penis rather than using the wet wipes. It is advisable to use a diaper as well because this will protect your baby from any kind of injury. Putting a diaper on will protect the baby from infections because it will avoid any contact of the affected area with germs. However, make sure to change the diaper often. Listen to the surgeon for any other practical advice and ensure that the baby is looked after well.

Caring for a Circumcised Baby

Tips to Care for a Circumcised Penis

  • Keep It Clean

This is one of the most important things that you will need to take care of. During bathing, avoid astringent and special bath products. Use plain soap and water to clean the tip of the penis if smeared with poop. To prevent any irritation to the baby, allow the area to get dry by itself. Until the baby’s penis is healed, it will be better to stick to sponge baths when cleaning a circumcised baby boy. Remember to change diapers regularly and keep the area clean.

  • Keep It Protected and Covered

Once the surgery is performed there will be a bandage with jelly placed on the baby’s penis that will fall off when he pees next time. What do you do after it falls off? Well, the paediatricians have a mixed feeling on whether or not to put anything on the healing penis. So, it is best to take advice from the doctor if it is better to cover it or leave it open. If you do cover it with a bandage, you need to apply a bit of jelly to the tip so that it doesn’t stick to the penis. If your doctor says you shouldn’t put a bandage on, they may recommend other possibilities like dabbing a bit of jelly and some ointment and applying it after every diaper change. Fasten the diapers slightly loose to avoid bruising of the tip of the penis.

  • Put Double Diapers

This will help your baby son manage the pain. As you put on two diapers, it provides a cushion to your baby’s penis and it helps reduce the pain as well. Another option you can try is to put ice in a zip lock bag and put it in between the layers to provide some pain relief.

  • Use Ice for Proper Healing

If the tip of the circumcised penis is a little red then it is perfectly alright. It is also okay if there is a yellowish fluid oozing from the penis because it only means that the body is working to heal the affected area. Even if you see a little bit of blood on the diaper it is fine. But make sure to use ice for proper healing.

Uncircumcised Baby Penis Care

The first few days and months is crucial to care for your baby’s penis. When the foreskin is still attached, you can gently clean the outside of uncircumcised penis with ordinary soap and water for babies during the bath time. It is recommended cleaning the newborn baby’s penis like a finger and just the area that is visible. So, doctors suggest that you do not try and clean the skin under the foreskin. In uncircumcised boys, the entire foreskin is intact and cannot be pulled back. By the age of 1 year, the foreskin starts to retract in approximately 90% of babies, and in majority males by age of 17 years. Applying force to retract could only damage it or result in bleeding.

Risks & More

Circumcising a man or a baby is an age-old practice that is widely accepted around the globe. There are minimal risks of circumcision and there is no need for parents to worry about this. However, just like with any other surgery there are still risks involved which can never be overlooked.

When you decide on the right methods of circumcisions for your baby, you need to also carefully analyse the place where you plan to get it done. Only a skilled professional should be handling this procedure and all of this should be done after ensuring that the infant is healthy for this surgery. Proven techniques need to be used so that the risk of infection is minimised. There are very thin risk factors and some of them are bleeding, infection, and also the failure to remove enough skin. Use of fresh or adequately sterilised instruments is recommended. After the surgery, there are still chances of infection and bleeding because this can be caused because of the friction between the diapers and ammonia that is present in the urine. Often times, petroleum jelly can provide the needed relief if there is any irritation.

Some more risks include balanitis which is the inflammation of the penis opening and also disorders related to the urinary tract. Other major risks are partial amputation, urethral fistulas, and penis necrosis. In very rare cases, too much skin is removed from the penis and this results in painful erection in adults.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

After the surgery, call the doctor if you notice:

  • Urine is only trickling
  • Foreskin becomes itchy, swollen or red
  • Foreskin balloons during urination
  • Foreskin gets stuck in a retracted position

It is crucial to provide adequate care to a child in the initial days after the circumcision. Make sure that you prepare well for this huge decision and take proper care throughout the recovery time. Looking up this information will help you make informed decisions.

Also Read: Cloth Diapers Versus Disposable Diapers

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