A baby boy amazed while his doctor is checking his heartbeat with a stethoscope.

What Is a Circumcision?

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin surrounding the glans (head) of the penis.

It is typical for the foreskin to be attached to the head of the penis initially and then gradually separate as the child ages. Many parents choose to circumcise their child in the newborn period, often within the eight-week period following birth.  After that period, a child normally must wait until they are at least 6 months old and be put under general anesthesia to have a circumcision performed. As a result, if a parent wants to circumcise their son it is important that they act quickly after birth to avoid the need for general anesthesia. Not all children require a circumcision.

How Do You Know If a Circumcision Is Right for Your Baby?

A member of our pediatric team will examine your son to determine if there are any abnormalities present, such as inadequate foreskin, curvature, or abnormal placement of the meatus.  Should they identify potential risks with the procedure, then a circumcision under a brief general anesthetic when the child is older may be recommended.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement in 2005, reporting information from studies of both circumcised and uncircumcised males and found the following:

  • Problems with the penis such as irritation can occur with or without circumcision.
  • There should be no difference in hygiene if proper care is followed.
  • There may or may not be difference in sexual sensation or practices in adult men.
  • There is an increased risk of urinary tract infection in uncircumcised males, especially in babies younger than 1 year of age. However, the risk for urinary tract infections in all boys is less than one percent.
  • Newborn circumcision does provide some protection from cancer of the penis. However, the overall risk of penis cancer is very low in developed countries, such as the United States.

The AAP notes some health benefits related to circumcisions, but these reasons are not sufficient to mandate circumcision nationwide. The AAP advises that the physician should inform parents of the benefits and risks of the circumcision and allow the parent to decide.

Occasionally, a circumcision will become medically necessary to treat a medical problem.

Should you decide to proceed with circumcision, you can trust that The Newborn Circumcision Center team has the experience and skill that your child deserves.

What Occurs During the Procedure?

Circumcision is an outpatient procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin from the penis. This is done using a surgical knife.  The goal is to leave the correct amount of skin on the shaft of the penis so that the head of the penis is exposed (Many well-fed babies have a fat pad which engulfs the base of the penis. In these cases, the foreskin may partially or even completely cover the glans of the penis which is retracted in the fat pad. This will usually correct itself as your son’s penis grows and the baby fat disappears.)

After the foreskin is removed, the edges of the skin are placed together using dissolvable suture or surgical glue.  The sutures, if present, will dissolve on their own after one to two weeks. Local anesthetic is used to minimize discomfort. The entire procedure normally takes less than thirty minutes.

Where Is the Circumcision Performed?

Traditionally, circumcision is performed in the hospital setting but often requires physicians to return for the procedure at a later time which may cause additional delay and unnecessary hospital stays for babies and mothers. Thanks to The Newborn Circumcision Center, the procedure can be performed in the physician office setting.

The will take place in the Newborn Circumcision Center’s state-of-the-art facility in Roswell. The providers will use injected and topical anesthetic agents as an alternative to general anesthesia to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure. After the circumcision, the baby will be reunited with the family in a private room where the child will be observed for a period of time before being discharged.

What Indications Are Present for Circumcision?

Although a circumcision is not strictly necessary for most boys, circumcisions do offer some benefits. Boys under the age of one year old are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections. Boys with other urologic issues, such as vesicoureteral reflux or urinary obstruction, are at higher risk for urinary tract infections including infections to the kidney that may have long-term implications on the health of the kidney. Circumcision may also help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and invasive penile cancer later in life.

Possible risks associated with circumcision that may include scarring, bleeding, or infection are generally considered mild. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the benefits associated with having a baby circumcised outweigh any of the possible complication risks.
There are some conditions that may require a circumcision if medical management with the use of a topical steroid fails. These include:

  1. Inability to retract the foreskin (phimosis) with significant scarring of the foreskin.
  2. Ballooning or bulging of the foreskin during urination causing voiding dysfunction.
  3. Recurrent urinary tract infections or infections of the foreskin.

What Occurs After the Circumcision?

After circumcision is performed, we will examine the patient and provide specific instructions on how to care for the child post-procedure.

Antibiotic ointment and gauze can sometimes be used, and Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be recommended to help a baby deal with pain that may occur after the circumcision. This is generally not needed.

Are There Situations When Circumcision Should Not Be Considered?

A pediatric urologist may recommend delaying circumcision if a baby has other medical conditions, such as heart or lung issues, that take precedence and require immediate attention, bleeding disorders, or congenital abnormality of the penis, including curvature, incomplete formation of the foreskin, or abnormal location of the urethral opening. 

What About a Partial Circumcision?

Partial and complete circumcisions are both safe in the hands of a qualified and experienced circumcision specialist. However, partial circumcisions come with a relatively high rate of complications, so we do not perform them. The decision to circumcise should be made in consultation with your trusted medical professionals and aligned with your values, beliefs, and health goals. Learn more about partial vs complete circumcision.