my son needs to be re-circumcised?

The original version of this article (2013) was written by Larissa Black, director of The Whole Network. Edited and republished by Your Whole Baby (2018), with permission.

So your doctor has told you that not enough foreskin was removed during your son’s circumcision. A circumcision revision surgery, or “re-circumcision,” has been recommended. As a parent, you love your son and you just want what’s best for him, which is why you may be asking yourself, “Is this surgery really necessary?” It is always healthy to ask questions when your child may be facing medical interventions. And there’s a lot to know, both about what happened with the initial circumcision, and what the consequences of revision surgery can be. Warning: Clicking hyperlinks in this article may take you to nude images. Please click carefully.

First, some helpful background. In regards to circumcision itself, it is inherently an imprecise procedure. A baby’s penis doesn’t come with a “cut here” line. It changes size during spontaneous erections, and it’s often smaller than an adult’s pinky finger, which leaves only a tiny operating area. Various surgical devices can be used during circumcision, each of which can affect the visual outcome and functionality differently.

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To add to these levels of imprecision, many providers believe they're doing the “right” thing by removing a particular amount of tissue. Some will attempt to take as much tissue as possible for a visual result like our culturally familiar “high and tight” cut: after the procedure, all of the baby's foreskin is gone and the glans is fully exposed, leaving an end result that looks very much like a circumcised adult. We can hypothesize that providers find that this approach makes parents less likely to express concern over appearance and request revision surgery, or perhaps they were trained that taking more tissue is better.

Unfortunately, the removal of that much penile tissue causes specific complications. Children with high and tight circumcisions can grow up not having enough mobile penile skin to comfortably accommodate erections or normal penile growth. Therefore, they experience complications such as tight, painful erections, a penis that curves sharply to one side, chafing and tearing of the circumcision scar tissue, and scrotal skin pulled up onto the shaft of the penis, resulting in "hairy shaft."

Other providers — perhaps those who are more aware of the functions of foreskin and the complications of a “high and tight” circumcision — may attempt a “loose” cut to leave as much tissue as possible. This “loose cut” can initially make the child’s remaining penis look like it might not have been circumcised. Upon encountering a child who has been more loosely circumcised, a doctor may pressure the child’s parents to "revise" something that requires no revision whatsoever. Again, these surgeries are overwhelmingly unnecessary and are a result of doctors and parents who are uninformed on this issue.

A child who undergoes circumcision revision surgery to achieve a “high and tight” appearance may indeed end up looking more “like daddy,” but he is also subject to all of the complications that come with having a more tight circumcision. These complications can lead to a great deal of discomfort not only for the circumcised man, but also for his sexual partner/s. Men experiencing these issues often find some relief by stretching the remaining skin using non-surgical foreskin restoration techniques. Foreskin restoration is supposed to be painless, but it is a slow, arduous, and imperfect process to undertake.
 

Risks Associated With Circumcision Revision Surgeries

Since circumcision revision surgery is elective (not medically necessary), complications are 100% avoidable by simply not opting for the procedure. Learn more about the lifelong complications caused by circumcisions and circumcision revisions here:

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– Gallery of Botched Circumcisions
Stanford Complications of Circumcision
Global Survey of Circumcision Harm: Photo Gallery of Damage
Historical Medical Quotes on Circumcision: Circumcision Complications

In addition to complications of the “re-circumcision” surgery itself, there are many risks that accompany the use of general anesthesia in infants and children. "Examples of side effects are nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, sore throat, shivering, aches and pains, discomfort during injection of drugs, and agitation upon awakening from anesthesia... Adverse effects...may include dental trauma, croup (swelling of the windpipe), allergic reactions to drugs or latex products, wheezing, vocal cord spasm or injury, regurgitation of stomach contents with subsequent aspiration pneumonia, injury to arteries, veins or nerves, alterations in blood pressure, and/or irregular heart rhythms. Death and brain damage are the most feared of all anesthetic risks, but fortunately these complications are extremely rare." (Source: Society for Pediatric Anesthesia)

Second Surgeries Are More Profitable

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Research has shown that “repair” surgeries of various kinds, undertaken to fix issues caused by previous surgeries, frequently are far more lucrative for doctors and hospitals than the initial surgeries. This study found that the rate of re-circumcision surgeries at 28 U.S. hospitals increased 119% between 2004 and 2009, at an average per-surgery cost of just over $1,500. This can lead a parent to wonder: Are medical professionals looking at a child's loose circumcision and seeing dollar signs?

More and more parents are choosing not to circumcise their sons. To learn more about circumcision, check out this article written by The WHOLE Network's founder about her own journey of discovery when she was pregnant with her first son. We also encourage you to visit our website's library to continue your search.

Published: 1/1/2018