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Adult Circumcision

Circumcision is a procedure to remove the foreskin, the loose fold of skin that covers the head of the penis. You may have a condition that requires circumcision. Or you may want to be circumcised for personal reasons. Either way, you'll want to know what to expect. Read on to learn more about adult circumcision and how it’s done.

Front view of penis and scrotum. Line around head of penis shows circumcision incision. Foreskin at tip of penis is removed.

Before the procedure

Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take and any allergies you have. Cream to numb the skin of the penis may be applied 30 to 60 minutes before the procedure. There will be some swelling and soreness after the procedure, so arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.

During the procedure

  • The penis and nearby area are cleaned and prepared for the procedure.

  • An IV (intravenous) line is placed in your hand or arm. It supplies fluids and medicine. This may include medicine (anesthesia) to prevent pain. Depending on what type of anesthesia you get, you may be awake, drowsy, or asleep during the procedure. The skin of the penis may also be numbed with injections of local anesthesia.

  • Once the penis is numb or you are drowsy or asleep, cuts (incisions) are made in the foreskin. The foreskin is then removed.

  • The incisions are closed with stitches or surgical glue.

  • The incision is covered with ointment. A bandage is put on the penis.

After the procedure

You will be taken to a recovery area where you’ll recover from the anesthesia. Nurses will check on you as you rest. They can also give you pain medicine if needed. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it’s OK for you to go home. This will be the same day. When you dress to go home, wear snug-fitting, brief-style underwear. This will help hold your bandage in place. You'll also be given care instructions for when you return home.

What to expect

  • You'll likely see a crust of blood or yellowish coating around the head of the penis. Don't remove scabs. It’s OK if they fall off on their own.

  • The penis will swell. It may bleed a little around the incision.

  • The head of the penis will be red or black-and-blue.

  • You may have pain when you pee for the first few days.

  • Take pain medicine as instructed by your healthcare provider.

  • Healing takes about  2 weeks. The stitches should dissolve on their own.

Caring for your penis

  • You may shower  24 hours after surgery. When drying off, gently pat the penis dry.

  • Don’t take a bath or use a hot tub, Jacuzzi, or swimming pool for  2 weeks after surgery.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for bandage care. Change or remove the bandage only when told to do so by your provider. This will likely be the day after surgery.

  • Don't have any kind of sexual activity for  4 to 6  weeks after surgery. An erection can cause the incisions to open. Ask your healthcare provider what you can do to help stop erections.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4° F ( 38°C ) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • More redness, bruising, or swelling of the penis

  • Discharge that is heavy, a greenish color, or lasts more than a week

  • Bleeding that isn’t controlled by applying gentle pressure

  • Inability to pee

Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tennille Dozier RN BSN RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2021
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