The decision to circumcise your child is a big personal decision. There are many factors to think about to decide if it’s right for your family.
Whether you are thinking about circumcision for personal, religious, cultural or medical reasons, we are here to help you make the best decision for your child. At Banner Children’s, our goal is to create a safe and comfortable environment for families to explore their options.
Circumcision is a brief surgery to remove the foreskin, the retractable fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis (or glans).
When your baby is born, the foreskin is completely attached to the penis. Over time, the foreskin separates from the head of the penis and can be pulled back.
Circumcision can be done at any age, but most are done during the first few days of a baby’s life.
The procedure is done by a health care provider before one month of age, usually in the hospital or a medical office. In Jewish culture, circumcision (or bris) is performed on the eighth day and is usually performed by a provider at the family’s home. Muslims also practice circumcision (khitan), though the age of the child may vary based on the family’s branch and tradition.
While circumcision can be performed later in life, it’s best to do it as soon as possible. The procedure becomes more complicated and riskier in older babies, children and adults because it must then be performed under general anesthesia.
Before your baby is born, you will be asked if you’d like to have them circumcised.
In the United States, newborn circumcision is not required. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers circumcision a parent’s choice. The AAP has found that the health benefits of circumcision are greater than the risks, but the benefits aren’t large enough to say it should be required.
Although religion, culture or personal choice may come into play when thinking about circumcision for your baby, you should also be aware of these benefits and risks.
Those who are circumcised have a lower risk of:
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision carries some risks. However, the rate of problems is low. The most common risks are minor bleeding, infection and pain.
Another complication is damage or deformity to the penis. Serious injuries are very rare, though, occurring in approximately 0.2% of procedures (usually those done outside the hospital).
There are a few situations that may cause circumcision to be delayed. These include:
Your child’s health care provider can help you weigh the benefits and risks and determine if circumcision is right for your baby.
During a circumcision, the penis and foreskin are cleaned and the foreskin is removed. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
There are different methods for performing circumcision. The choice of technique depends on the health care provider’s preference and experience. The three primary methods are the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell device and the Mogen clamp.
The steps for performing circumcision may differ, but your child’s provider will generally follow these steps:
Your health care provider may recommend oral sucrose, a simple sugar solution given as a liquid on your child’s tongue or inside their cheek. It can comfort infants and toddlers during this brief medical procedure.
After the circumcision, you will need to care for your baby’s penis until it heals. Recovery can take up to 10 days.
Your provider will give you aftercare directions. These include:
The penis may appear swollen and red after the surgery. After a few days, a soft yellow scab may develop. These side effects are normal and will go away in a few days.
However, contact your child’s provider if you see signs the penis isn’t healing well, such as:
Deciding to circumcise your child can be a difficult decision. You may have many reasons for or against it, whether personal, religious, cultural or medical.
If you have questions, contact Banner Children’s. Our team of specialists offers a specialized approach to this procedure and can help you decide if it’s the right choice for your baby.