Male children are born with a natural piece of skin covering the tip of their penis, known as the foreskin. Circumcision is a medical procedure designed to remove this foreskin. Typically, it is carried out within the first few weeks of a baby boy’s life, either in a hospital nursery or a pediatrician’s office. The procedure itself is quite swift, usually taking only 5 to 10 minutes for routine circumcision.
Why is circumcision done?
Circumcision serves various purposes, often rooted in religious or cultural traditions, such as within Jewish and Islamic families as well as specific indigenous communities in Africa and Australia. Additionally, it can be a matter of family heritage, personal hygiene preference, or a preventative health measure.
On occasion, circumcision becomes medically necessary, such as when the foreskin is too tight to retract over the glans. In other cases, particularly in certain parts of Africa, circumcision is recommended for older boys or men to reduce the risk of specific sexually transmitted infections.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledges that the benefits of circumcision generally outweigh the risks. However, the AAP does not universally advocate for routine circumcision of all male newborns. Instead, the decision regarding circumcision is left to the discretion of parents, with the AAP supporting the use of anesthetics for infants undergoing the procedure.
What are the benefits of circumcision?
Circumcision offers several potential health benefits. For circumcised males, maintaining hygiene is often more straightforward since cleaning the penis is simpler. However, it’s essential to note that boys with uncircumcised penises can be taught proper hygiene practices, including cleaning under the foreskin.
Circumcision is also associated with a reduced risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), particularly during the first year of life. Furthermore, as they transition into adulthood, circumcised males may face a lower risk of contracting certain sexually transmitted diseases.
It’s crucial to clarify that circumcision has no impact on fertility, and it is not believed to enhance or diminish sexual pleasure for men or their partners.
What are the risk of circumcision?
Complications resulting from circumcision are quite rare. When they do occur, they are typically minor and can be easily addressed. In some cases, there might be slight bleeding, but this seldom requires further medical attention. It’s important to inform your doctor if there is a family history of bleeding disorders, as this information can guide the procedure.
Circumcision may cause some discomfort or pain, but there are safe and effective pain relief options that your doctor can discuss with you in advance to ensure your comfort.
There is a possibility of infection in the area sometimes. Signs of infection may include persistent redness or swelling that does not subside, and these symptoms may be accompanied by a fever or drainage from the incision site. If you notice any signs of infection, it’s essential to contact your doctor promptly. When detected early, these issues are generally easy to treat
How Does Circumcision Look Like After 4 weeks?
Circumcision can result in the formation of a scar. The type of scarring largely depends on the circumcision technique chosen. Scarring is generally less likely when the procedure is performed during infancy. However, for older children and adults, there are measures to reduce the risk of scarring.
The initial step in minimizing scarring is to consult a qualified practitioner. Your doctor or surgeon can guide you through the available techniques and discuss the potential types of scars associated with each procedure.
The accompanying photos serve as examples of the typical healing process following circumcision surgery. They can serve as a reference to help you understand what to anticipate after your child’s surgery. It’s important to note that each patient and surgery is unique, so if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s healthcare provider.
How does circumcision heal?
After being discharged from the hospital, you’ll receive guidance on your home recovery, including when you can resume activities like driving, working, and having sexual intercourse. Typically, the circumcision wound takes about 5 to 7 days to heal. If a plastic ring was used, a piece of suture is tied tightly around the foreskin, which pushes the tissue into a groove in the plastic covering the head of the penis. Within 5 to 7 days, the plastic ring naturally falls off, leaving the circumcision fully healed. Generally, it takes at least 10 days for the penis to fully heal after circumcision, and you may be advised to take at least one week off work during your recovery.
Since circumcision can be painful, it’s recommended to take painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen for at least the first three days after the procedure. Children aged 16 or younger should avoid aspirin.
Circumcision exposes the sensitive skin of the glans (the tip of the penis). For babies, the diaper may rub against the glans, potentially causing discomfort. Be sure to tuck down your baby’s penis before securing the diaper.
Following circumcision, the penis may appear red and swollen for a few days. It’s advisable for you or your child to wear loose-fitting clothing for added comfort. Applying petroleum ointment directly to the area can also help reduce irritation.
After your son undergoes circumcision, ensure he avoids activities like riding a bike or using sit-on toys until the swelling has fully subsided. If your son is of school age, he can typically return to school approximately one week after the circumcision. Be sure to inform his teacher about the procedure.
When to contact your doctor
After circumcision, contact your GP if:
- There is bleeding from your child’s penis.
- Your child’s penis remains swollen after two weeks.
- Your child continues to experience painful urination a few days after the operation.
For older boys and men, it’s also essential to consult with a GP if any issues arise after circumcision
What happens if you don’t undergo circumcision?
For most males who practice good hygiene, not being circumcised doesn’t have a significant impact on their uncircumcised penis. However, there are some potential complications associated with not undergoing circumcision:
- Bacterial or Fungal Infections: Poor hygiene practices can lead to the accumulation of bacteria or fungi in the foreskin, especially if there are cuts or sores present. Balanitis, a common bacterial infection in men, can cause inflammation of the head of the penis, accompanied by a foul smell, unusual discharge under the foreskin, and pain during urination.
- Injury: In cases where the foreskin hangs loosely over the head of the penis, it may be more susceptible to accidents, such as getting caught in a zipper. This can result in open wounds and potential damage to the urethral meatus (the tube at the tip of the penis).
- STIs and STDs: Research suggests that circumcision may reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as genital herpes simplex, human papillomavirus (HPV), mycoplasma, trichomoniasis, syphilis, HIV, and chancroid. Uncircumcised men may be at a higher risk of harboring infections under or around their foreskin.
- Yeast Infections: While yeast infections are more common in females, males can also develop them if they do not practice proper hygiene. Fungi like Candida albicans can lead to yeast infections in and around the foreskin.
- Phimosis: Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin of the penis is too tight to retract over the head of the penis. While this condition typically improves as one grows older and the foreskin naturally loosens, if the foreskin can’t fully cover the penis, it may increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Paraphimosis: Paraphimosis is similar to phimosis in terms of foreskin coverage, but in this case, the foreskin becomes stuck behind the head of the penis due to tightness. Paraphimosis can be very uncomfortable as the tight skin can cause swelling, potentially obstructing blood flow to the tip of the penis. This condition is considered critical and requires immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.
it’s important to understand that the appearance of the penis four weeks after circumcision can vary from person to person. However the above image will enable you understand what 4 weeks after circumcision pictures may look like.