Circumcision Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin (prepuce), or the covering over the head of the penis, which is attached to the glans.
People hold differing views about circumcision. At Maine Urology Associates, we believe the long-term medical benefits are greater than the short-term risks.
Evidence suggests that circumcised children and adults are less susceptible to urinary tract infections, while some studies show certain venereal diseases and cancer of the penis occur less often in circumcised men.
Ten percent or more of non-circumcised older children or adult males eventually choose to be circumcised because of phimosis, or a non-retractable foreskin, penile infections or hygiene concerns.
There are also religious, cultural and social reasons for circumcision, including the desire to look like "everyone else" since the majority of men — more than 80 percent — in the United States have been circumcised. However, only one in seven males is circumcised worldwide: 40 percent in Australia and Canada and only six percent in the United Kingdom.
Risks include pain, bleeding and infection from the operation; complications due to local anesthesia; the removal of too little or too much skin, and the development of penile adhesions. An experienced urologist can prevent most complications, handle surprises and make circumcision a low-risk operation.
When can a circumcision be done?
The decision to circumcise is usually made before birth or within 24-48 hours afterward, but can be made at any time during the first month of life. After the first month or two, circumcision becomes riskier and more expensive, often requiring general anesthesia and brief hospitalization.
What can I expect?
Circumcision is usually performed on infants and is, in fact, the most common childhood surgical procedure. As with any operation, circumcision causes some pain, an elevated heart rate, and measurable hormonal changes. Most pediatric urologists use a local anesthesia prior to surgery to decrease pain, either by injection at the base of the penis or into the tissue to be cut, or topically with an anesthetic cream. The doctor then places an instrument around the head of the penis, cuts and removes the foreskin and covers the incision with an antibiotic ointment or a Vaseline gauze. The procedure usually takes about ten minutes.