What You Need to Know about Having your Baby Circumcised

December 4, 2015
As a parent of a newborn boy, you may feel nervous at the prospect of having him circumcised, how it will affect him and at what stage this would be best. Although many procedures are carried out on older children, there is no minimum age limit before a baby can be circumcised and having the procedure earlier on may lower the costs and risks associated with the general anaesthesia that is needed in procedures on older children. Circumcision is when the loose skin, known as the foreskin or prepuce, which covers the end of your baby’s penis is surgically removed. The foreskin covers and protects the top part of the penis and contains nerves, blood vessels, and a tiny amount of muscle. In the circumcision practice, babies are counted as those under the age of three months. A circumcision on babies or children under the age of five is rarely for medical reasons, and is usually carried out as a family decision, for social and cultural reasons, or as part of Islamic or Judaic religious traditions. Carrying out the procedure The World Health Organisation guidelines state that a baby must weigh more than 2.5kg in order for the circumcision to be carried out. It is safe for your newborn boy to undergo the procedure at any stage taking his weight into consideration, however, it’s advisable that if your baby is premature, you should wait until he is older to take into account how early he was when calculating his readiness. For newborn babies, your surgeon is likely to use a local anaesthetic to numb the area. This will be either via an injection at the base of the baby’s penis, or the application of a cream, around an hour before the procedure. The procedure itself is considered to be minor surgery and won’t take long – there is no need for you or your baby to stay overnight at the clinic or hospital. If your baby is being circumcised for non-medical reasons, both parents must give their consent. The Plastibell Circumcision Technique The majority of babies, infants and toddlers undergo the Plastibell circumcision technique, which is an established and safe procedure. The method uses a clear plastic ring with a handle and a deep groove running around it, placed over the head of the penis. It is then covered over by the foreskin and the excess skin is carefully trimmed off. The entire circumcision procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes. The ring falls off within 10 days, leaving a small wound that will heal over the following weeks – no stitches are required. The largest sized Plastibell that is available is 1.7cm in diameter. Therefore, for a small percentage of babies, one of the formal surgical circumcision techniques may be the most suitable, which can be discussed in the consultation with your baby’s doctor. How to prepare There aren’t many special preparations you’ll have to make before the operation, though we’d advise that you change your baby’s nappy and keep a clean one ready to change him into after the surgery is complete. We’d also recommend that you give him a bottle of sugary water to drink during the injection and the circumcision procedure, as this is a good way to help calm and settle babies or very young children. Although parents may feel more at ease staying in the operating room during the entire circumcision procedure, it can be a stressful time for parents and you may feel more comfortable waiting outside until it has been carried out. As part of an award winning health care provider throughout Birmingham and the West Midlands, Birmingham Circumcision Clinic carry out safe and professional circumcision services on babies, children of all ages and adults. If you’d like to find out information about our circumcision clinic or have any questions, please contact us on 0121 250 0386, or email circumcision.bham@nhs.net.