What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical removal of your child’s foreskin (the skin covering the tip of the penis). A surgeon may carry out circumcision for various medical conditions in boys.

Our paediatric gastrointestinal surgeons work together with our specialist urology team to treat a range of urological conditions in children at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Why might a circumcision be performed?

Circumcision may be recommended to treat conditions that affect the penis, such as:

  • Phimosis – this is when the foreskin becomes too tight and cannot be pulled back over the head of your child’s penis. The condition can cause pain and, in some cases, make urination difficult. In paraphimosis, the foreskin cannot cover the head of your child’s penis once it’s pulled back. As a result, the penis’s head becomes swollen and painful and they would need prompt treatment to prevent blood flow restriction.
  • Balanitis – is another condition that affects the foreskin. In balanitis, the foreskin and head of your child’s penis become inflamed and infected. Sometimes, this condition recurs and circumcision is the most suitable treatment.
  • Lichen sclerosus (Balanitis xerotica obliterans) – this is a skin condition that can cause scarring of the foreskin. In some cases, the recommended treatment for this is circumcision.
  • Cancer of the penis – this is rare, but can cause a growth or ulcer at the end of the penis or under the foreskin, bleeding, discharge and skin changes. One of the recommended treatments for penile cancer is circumcision.

How does the circumcision surgery work?

We carry out circumcision as a day-patient procedure, which means your child can go home on the same day, as long as there are no complications.

Once you arrive at the hospital, the caring medical team will see you and your child to explain the procedure. The team will include your child’s surgeon and anaesthetist; you’ll have the opportunity to ask them any questions at this point.

Circumcision is performed under a general anaesthetic. It is a straightforward procedure that removes the foreskin with a scalpel or surgical scissors. The surgeon stops the bleeding using cauterisation (heat) and stitches the skin with dissolvable sutures.

Benefits of a circumcision

The benefits of circumcision include:

  • reduced risk of urinary tract infections
  • reduced risk of penile cancer
  • prevention of balanitis and phimosis
  • easier to maintain personal hygiene

If you’re unsure whether circumcision is right for your child, speak with a member of our team who will be happy to discuss options with you.

Risks of a circumcision

Although circumcision is a simple procedure, like all surgeries there are some risks associated with it.

Risks of circumcision can include:

  • pain
  • bleeding and infection
  • irritation of the head of the penis
  • increased risk of inflammation of the penis opening

Our team are dedicated to minimising these risks and providing you and your child with safe and effective treatment.

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