Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin covering the glans (head) of the penis. This may be performed by the baby's doctor, obstetrician, or in the Jewish faith, a mohel. Anesthesia may or may not be used for this surgery. The procedure takes only about 15 minutes, and healing is usually complete within 7-10 days. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statementthat circumcision is elective surgery and is not medically necessary. Although there are some studies that show less penile cancer in circumcised men, the rates of penile cancer are so incredibly low that the AAP does not recommend surgery based on that negligible benefit. There are inconclusive findings that circumcised males may have less urinary tract infections, however, it is generally felt that good hygiene negates any difference in risk. Therefore, whether or not to circumcise is now considered a personal and cultural decision, rather than a medical one. Circumcision rates fell to 60% in 1991, and are expected to drop further. Rates are considerably lower in Canada. Complications from circumcision occur in 0.5 to 2 percent of the cases. These include infection, bleeding, severe irritation, painful urination and scarring.
Care of the Circumcised Penis
If a Gomco clamp has been used for the circumcision procedure, the care is to change wet diapers frequently, and in the first 24 hours, to put some Vaseline on the glans and gauze around it. Then for the next couple days, simply put Vaseline on the penis after a diaper change, which provides a barrier from irritating urine. If the baby's circumcision was done with a Plastibell, this plastic ring device will remain on the baby's penis, until it falls off, about 5-8 days later. Click hereto see step by step photos of the procedure.
During this period, simply wipe the baby thoroughly at each diaper change, and no special care is needed. Do not immerse the baby's penis in a tub bath until the circumcision healing is complete, but rather give a sponge bath instead. If you are unsure if the area is healed, you can check with the doctor on this at the 2 week checkup. It is normal to see some swelling, redness or irritation during healing. You may see a normal yellow discharge, which is part of the healing process, and should not be removed. Warning signs are active bleeding, trouble urinating, foul odor or other signs of infection.
Care of the Uncircumcised Penis
There is no special care required. Normal wiping and bathing is all that is needed and the foreskin naturally protects the glans from irritation. If you see white spots on the tip of the penis, simply wipe them off, as this is just the normal shedding of skin cells. Do not attempt to retract the foreskin. This will happen naturally by a boy's third birthday. If at that point, you feel unsure of how to assure good hygiene, your doctor will have some simple suggestions for you.
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