Partial vs Complete Circumcision

As you have likely found in your research, circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, but not all circumcisions are the same. Most commonly, circumcisions vary in how much of the foreskin is removed. This variability creates a decision some parents must make – between partial and complete circumcision – often when cultural or religious norms do not guide them. Both options are acceptable, but each has unique benefits and risks but with similar postoperative care.

Partial Circumcision

There is quite a bit of variability in what is considered a partial circumcision. However, the one constant is that only a portion of the foreskin is removed, meaning that some skin still covers the head of the penis, known as the glands. In any case, there is significantly less foreskin than before the procedure. Typically, the degree to which the foreskin is removed is a conversation between the urologist here at TNCC and the parents. Ultimately, the choice of how much foreskin to leave depends on parental preference and any medical limitations that may arise.

Partial circumcision is chosen for various reasons, but most often to walk a fine line between retaining some of the protective, aesthetic and sensory benefits of the foreskin while achieving some of the medical and hygienic benefits of a complete circumcision.

Benefits of a Partial Circumcision:

  • Aesthetic:  Some parents opt for partial circumcision to maintain a specific appearance of the penis or to “match” the fsther’s circumcision.
  • Cultural Preferences: Partial circumcision may adhere to some cultural practices.
  • Possibly Recovery Benefits: By removing less foreskin, the procedure is somewhat less invasive, potentially leading to quicker recovery.

However, while partial circumcision may offer medical benefits, such as a reduced risk of urinary tract infections and a lower risk of sexually transmitted diseases, benefits may not be as predictable as with a complete circumcision. Partial circumcision also comes with a unique set of considerations, in addition to any circumcision’s risks, including:

  • Uneven removal or healing of skin
  • Removing too much or too little skin
  • Fewer or less predictable protective effects than a complete circumcision

We do not believe the

Complete Circumcision

Complete circumcision is what most people think of when they consider a circumcision. This involves removing the entire foreskin, fully exposing the head of the penis. This is the more common form of circumcision for medical, cultural, and religious reasons. A complete circumcision is often recommended over a partial option for its more consistent medical benefits.

Benefits of Complete Circumcision

  • Medical Benefits: Complete circumcisions reduce the risks of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and herpes.
  • Hygiene: With the foreskin entirely removed, it can be easier to clean the penis, reducing the risk of infections and certain conditions like balanitis (inflammation of the glans).
  • Cultural or Religious Norms: Often, complete circumcision is necessary to fulfill cultural or religious obligations and norms.

Choosing Between Partial and Complete Circumcision

Choosing between partial and complete circumcision should be based on discussions with the TNCC team and trusted medical providers, personal or family beliefs, and cultural practices. These discussions should not be rushed, and we suggest they are had well before the birth.

Considerations for Decision-Making

We can help you parse important information for your decision, including:

  • Pre-operative needs and requirements
  • Addressing any medical concerns or questions
  • Post-operative benefits and risks
  • Long-term benefits and possible consequences

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.