What is circumcision?
During a circumcision, the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the tip of the penis, is removed. Circumcision is usually performed on the first or second day after birth. It becomes more complicated and riskier in infants older than 2 months and in boys and men. The procedure takes only about 5 to 10 minutes. A local anesthetic (numbing medicine) can be given to your baby to lessen the pain from the procedure.
Boys are born with a hood of skin, called the foreskin, covering the head (also called the glans) of the penis. In circumcision, the foreskin is surgically removed, exposing the end of the penis.
How do I decide about circumcision?
Deciding whether to have your newborn son circumcised may be difficult. You will need to consider both the benefits and the risks of circumcision. Other factors, such as your culture, religion and personal preference, will also affect your decision.
The information about circumcision in this handout may help you make your decision. After you have read the handout, talk with your son's doctor about any concerns you have. The decision about whether to have your son circumcised should be made before your baby is born.
What are the risks of circumcision?
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision has some risks. However, the rate of problems after circumcision is low. Bleeding and infection in the circumcised area are the most common problems. Sometimes the skin of the newly exposed glans becomes irritated by the pressure of diapers and ammonia in the urine. The irritation is usually treated with petroleum ointment (Vaseline) put directly on the area. This problem will usually lessen after a few days.
How do I care for my baby's penis after a circumcision?
Gently clean the area with water every day and whenever the diaper area becomes soiled. Some swelling of the penis is normal after a circumcision. A clear crust will probably form over the area. It normally takes 7 to 10 days for the penis to heal after a circumcision.
After the circumcision, you may notice a small amount of blood on the baby's diaper. If the bloodstain is larger than the size of a quarter, call your doctor right away. In addition, you should call your doctor if a Plastibell device was used during the circumcision and the device doesn't fall off within 10 to 12 days. If there is a bandage on the penis instead of a Plastibell, the bandage should be changed each time you change your son's diaper. This will help prevent infection. Signs of infection also signal the need to call your doctor. These signs include a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, redness, swelling and/or a yellowish discharge.
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