Circumcision is a procedure where the foreskin is removed exposing the head of the penis. Newborn circumcisions are mainly performed for cultural or religious reasons and it is a relatively rare procedure in the UK. If you’re considering having your son circumcised then it is important to discuss the procedure with an experienced doctor so that you can make the right choices about his care.
The foreskin is a thin layer of skin that covers the head of the penis. It is usually tightly attached in newborns, but it should become looser as boys grow up so that it will be able to retract away from the head or glans. Some parents feel that it is harder to keep an intact penis clean as it is necessary to wash under the foreskin once it has become loose. Certain kinds of infection are more common in boys who have not been circumcised, but serious health problems linked to the foreskin are very rare.
There is no medical indication for circumcision in the newborn period. All babies have a tight foreskin and attempts should not be made to retract it. The foreskin will naturally retract as your son gets older. Surgery is only required if this doesn’t happen by the age of about five or six.
However, some religions and cultures favour having newborn male children circumcised. For some religions it is an absolute imperative. For some cultures, it is considered to be more hygienic and likely to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Conditions such as balanitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin) can also be prevented through circumcision, although good personal hygiene should also reduce the risk of these kinds of issues.
Male circumcision is a relatively minor procedure. It is very safe and it won’t usually have any long term effects on a man’s health or sexual relationships. It is illegal and wrong to perform any form of female "circumcision".
If you are considering newborn circumcision in London then it is vital to ensure that the procedure will be carried out safely. Circumcision in babies is generally very safe as long as it is performed by an experienced doctor using the correct procedures. Since there are no medical reasons to have your baby circumcised, this is a very personal decision. You will need to discuss the risks and benefits in detail with your doctor so that you can make the right decisions for your family.
Male circumcision is sometimes recommended at later ages to tackle issues such as phimosis or recurring infections of the foreskin. However, the procedure is different when it is performed at older ages and the risk of side effects will be higher. If you want to have your son circumcised for cultural reasons it is therefore best to arrange the procedure while he is still a baby.
Newborn circumcisions should be performed with the administration of local anaesthetic under strict aseptic conditions in a dedicated minor procedure room. We utilise the Plastibell® technique under local anaesthetic for babies under the age of 8 weeks old. It is essential that both parents consent to the procedure being carried out. During this procedure, a plastic ring is placed between the head of the penis and the foreskin and a string tied around it. Some excess skin may be clipped off if necessary. After a few days, the ring falls off leaving a circumcised penis.
The procedure takes about 15 minutes and you will be able to take your baby home immediately afterwards. He will be awake throughout the procedure, but he won’t be able to feel what is happening because of the local anaesthetic. The penis will be covered in gauze after the procedure to help keep it clean.
The plastic ring will remain in place for up to 10 to 12 days after the procedure. It will then drop off by itself, taking the foreskin with it. The Plastibell ® technique enables the foreskin to be removed without the need for any cuts or stitches so it is the preferred method for many doctors and parents in London. Different types of newborn circumcision procedure are used at different clinics in London so it is important to be aware of the method that will be used when you choose your doctor.
You will be able to take your baby home immediately afterwards. We prescribe some local anaesthetic gel to take home and apply regularly for the following 2 days. You might notice that your baby seems fussy or uncomfortable, but the gel should help to relieve any discomfort.
We usually ask that you keep the area as dry as possible for a couple of days and then bathe normally after that. It is essential to keep the foreskin area clean and dry in order to prevent issues such as infections that can otherwise occur after the procedure.
The Plastibell ® method that is used for newborn circumcision in London is very safe, but it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care. You will be able to get in touch with the doctor if you have any concerns during the recovery period.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin from the penis. The foreskin is the retractable skin that covers the glans or head of the penis. Circumcision surgery is sometimes performed on young babies for cultural reasons. Medical circumcisions may also be carried out to treat certain conditions in older boys or adult men, but this can be a more serious procedure with a higher risk of side effects.
There are no medical reasons why a healthy newborn boy would need to be circumcised. Circumcision is sometimes recommended in older children if there is a medical issue affecting the foreskin. For example, if boys experience frequent episodes of balanitis or the foreskin fails to retract by the age of about 6 it may be necessary to consider surgery.
Circumcision isn’t common in London or the rest of the UK. Only about 8.5% of boys and men in the UK are circumcised. When circumcision is performed on newborn babies, it is mainly for social or religious reasons. The procedure is more common in other parts of the world, so parents from these regions may decide that they want their sons to be circumcised. British parents may also choose circumcision for cultural or religious reasons. Some boys are circumcised later for medical reasons if there is an issue with the foreskin.
If you want your baby to be circumcised then it is a good idea to arrange the procedure while he is still a baby. The procedure can be less distressing for infants and it will also take less time for the foreskin to drop off when circumcision is performed using the Plastibell ® method. It is best to arrange the procedure during the first year, although it is possible to perform circumcisions after this. We recommend arranging the circumcision within the first 8 weeks as we will then be able to use the Plastibell ® technique.
Newborn circumcision is mainly performed for social or cultural reasons as there is no medical need to have the procedure. However, there is some evidence that circumcision can reduce the risk of developing certain conditions in later life. For example, men who have been circumcised can be less likely to catch certain STIs (including HPV and HIV) from their partners during some kinds of intercourse. Circumcision may also make it easier to keep the penis clean, although it is still essential to follow good personal hygiene practices to prevent issues such as inflammation. The potential health benefits of the procedure aren’t big enough to justify having your baby circumcised for medical reasons. However, you may still choose to have the procedure for social or religious reasons.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure so although it is very safe when performed by an experienced doctor there are still some risks involved. The risks are lower when the procedure is performed at an earlier age. Some bruising and swelling is normal after the procedure, but it should start to go away within a few days. With the Plastibell ® method used for circumcision in London, the most common complication is that in less than 3% of cases the ring fails to separate as quickly as expected. Other rare complications include infections and bleeding. If you have any concerns after the procedure then you should get in touch with your doctor. Circumcision can also affect the sensitivity of the penis, but it won’t usually affect a man’s health or sexual function when he grows up.
A local anaesthetic is used during the circumcision procedure to numb the penis so that your baby won’t be able to feel what is happening. It is usually given as an injection into the base of the penis. Some discomfort can occur after the procedure, especially when your baby is urinating. The doctor will advise you on how to manage this and will prescribe an anaesthetic gel for you to apply. The pain should go away within a few days in most cases, but you may notice that your son appears irritable or uncomfortable for a while.
Newborn circumcision can be performed using several different techniques, including procedures that involve cutting the foreskin off. We use the Plastibell ® technique for circumcision in London to remove the foreskin more gradually, so there isn’t usually a need for any incisions. Sometimes it may be necessary to clip off a small amount of excess skin after fitting the plastic ring. Other types of circumcision, particularly those performed at later ages, do require incisions to be made to remove the foreskin so it is important to know which method will be used by your doctor.
The Plastibell ® technique is a procedure that has been used to perform newborn circumcisions since the 1950s. A plastic ring is fitted between the glans of the penis and the foreskin. Medical sutures are then tied around the foreskin to cut off the blood supply. The skin of the foreskin won’t be able to survive without this blood supply, so it will drop off within 10 to 12 days. Sometimes this process can happen a little faster, but it should take at least a few days before the foreskin and ring are ready to fall off.
You will get detailed instructions on aftercare from your doctor, but the main priority is to keep the penis clean and dry until the foreskin has dropped off and the area has healed. You may notice a crusty yellow coating forming over he glans while it is healing. This is known as granulation tissue and it is part of the normal recovery process. You should ensure that you are changing your baby’s nappies regularly. It is also important to rinse the penis clean with lukewarm water then dry it carefully. The doctor may also recommend painkillers if your son seems uncomfortable after the procedure.
If you have any concerns after your baby’s circumcision then you can get in touch with the doctor for advice. The main issues to look out for are fever, redness, discharge or a bad smell, which can all be signs of infection. You should also check that the plastic ring remains in place, without slipping down the penis. If the plastic ring drops off sooner than expected or doesn’t fall off when it should, then you should contact your doctor to have it checked.