by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis.

Reasons for Procedure

Circumcision may be done to treat a foreskin that is:

  • Too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis
  • Inflamed or infected
  • Has other problems such as scarring or warts

It may also be done for cultural, personal, or religious reasons.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Some problems may be:

  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Excess bleeding
  • Infection
  • The penis does not look as expected
  • Change in the way the penis feels during sex
  • Damage to the tip of the penis

Talk to your doctor about ways to manage things that may raise your risk of problems, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic disease such as diabetes

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

You will need to:

  • Arrange for a ride home.
  • Talk to your doctor about all medicines and supplements you are taking. Some may need to be stopped up to 1 week before surgery.
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery.


Local or general anesthesia may be used. Local anesthesia will numb the area. General anesthesia will cause you to sleep during surgery.

Description of the Procedure

The foreskin will be pulled from the penis and cut away. The edges of skin will be closed with stitches. Petroleum jelly and a bandage may be put on the penis.

How Long Will It Take?

1 hour

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. Pain after the procedure can be managed with medicine.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Medicine will be given to ease pain. A cold pack may be given to ease swelling.

At Home

It will take about 10 days to heal. Some activity will be limited for up to 4 to 6 weeks.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A lot of bleeding
  • Pain that does not go away with medicine
  • Redness, swelling, or any discharge from the incision
  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  

Urology Care Foundation 


Canadian Urological Association 

Health Canada 


Circumcision. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed May 5, 2020.

Holman J, Stuessi K, et al. Adult circumcision. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Mar 15;59(6):1514-1518.

Pinto K. Circumcision controversies. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2012 Aug;59(4):977-986.

Revision Information