Circumcision (child)

What is a circumcision?

A circumcision is an operation to remove the foreskin (the skin that covers the sensitive tip of the penis).

Worldwide, circumcisions are most commonly performed for religious or cultural reasons. In the United Kingdom, circumcisions are usually recommended only for medical reasons such as balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO), a non-retractile foreskin and recurrent infections. (see fig.1).

Circumcision for children 

Are there any alternatives to a circumcision?

If BXO is suspected, a circumcision is the only dependable way to cure the condition. A non-retractile foreskin can often be treated with steroid creams. If your child does not have BXO, a dorsal slit operation or a preputioplasty may be recommended.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour.

During the operation your surgeon will remove the foreskin and seal off any small blood vessels. They will stitch the two edges of skin together.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Unsightly scarring

Specific complications of this operation:

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Developing an ulcer at the tip of the penis
  • Narrowing of the opening of the urethra
  • Too much foreskin is removed
  • Not enough foreskin is removed
  • Damage to the urethra
  • Injury to the end of the penis
  • Cosmetic problems

How soon will my child recover?

Your child should be able to go home the same day or the day after. The penis may look sore, swollen and bruised.

It is usually possible to return to school between a week and ten days after the operation.

Circumcision Summary

A circumcision is an operation to remove the foreskin.

Paying for the operation

Circumcision costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.

Copyright © 2008 EIDO Healthcare Limited   The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare.

The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited.

You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.


Author: Mr Jonathan Sutcliffe FRCS, Mr Shailinder Singh FRCS (Paed. Surg.) and Mr Gregor Knepil FRCS (Ed)

Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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