Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce) covering the tip of the penis on males. Boys are born with a hood of skin, called the foreskin, covering the head (or glans) of the penis.
During a typical procedure, the foreskin is opened and then separated from the glans after inspection. The circumcision device (if used) is placed, and then the foreskin is clipped off. If done in the newborn period, the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. Adult circumcision takes about one hour. The circumcision generally heals in five to seven days.
Circumcision is usually performed in the hospital on the first or second day after birth (or on the eighth day among the Jewish population). For newborns, local anesthesia is typically used to reduce pain, but sutures are rarely needed. The procedure becomes more complicated and riskier in older babies, children, and adult men. In these cases the procedure might need to be done under general anesthesia with additional steps, such as suturing, to prevent excessive bleeding.
Approximately 55% to 65% of all newborn boys are circumcised in the United States each year, varying by region. Circumcision after the newborn period is possible, but it's a more complex procedure. No major medical organization in the U.S. recommends either universal circumcision for all infant males or banning the procedure outright. Parents who choose circumcision often do so based on religious beliefs, cultural or social reasons, concerns about hygiene, or as a matter of preventive health care. Circumcised infants are less likely to develop urinary tract infections, especially in the first year of life, and there is a lower risk of penile cancer in circumcised men. The procedure may be recommended in older boys and men to treat phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) or to treat an infection of the penis.