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Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce), the retractable fold of skin that covers the end of the penis.

I have a question about circumcision

What is phimosis?

Phimosis is a tight foreskin which can’t be fully pulled back over the head of the penis (glans). A tight foreskin, or phimosis, in adulthood is a very common condition as well as during childhood.

A tight foreskin can sometimes be retracted, but then can’t be returned to its original position. This can cause the head of the penis (glans) to become swollen and painful; this sometimes requires emergency medical treatment to avoid serious complications.

What are the symptoms of a tight foreskin?

  • Inability to pull back the foreskin
  • Soreness, redness and/or irritation of the glans or foreskin
  • Discharge under the foreskin
  • An unpleasant odour
  • Itchiness or a rash on the penis
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating or having intercourse

What are the causes of a tight foreskin?

Most males are born with the condition which usually resolves itself as they transition through childhood. It can also be caused by a number of different skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus or lichen sclerosus.

If you can’t retract the foreskin over the glans it may cause soreness, redness and/or irritation at the end of the penis. This means that your foreskin is too tight. These symptoms may be accompanied by a thick, unpleasant-smelling discharge from under the foreskin. It may also lead to pain or discomfort when urinating or when having sex.

How is a tight foreskin diagnosed and what is the treatment for a tight foreskin?

Your GP should be able to diagnose a tight foreskin by discussing your symptoms and by examining your penis. It’s only natural that you might feel embarrassed about seeing your doctor, but don't let that stop you seeking help as your symptoms could sometimes be an indication of a more serious underlying condition.

If you’re experiencing symptoms and your GP suggests that you have a tight foreskin, they may refer you to a Consultant Urologist who may recommend a circumcision at Benenden Hospital.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce), the retractable fold of skin that covers the end of the penis. It is normally only recommended after other less invasive treatments have been tried.

Why would I have circumcision?

Circumcision in adults is normally recommended as treatment for a number of conditions, including recurrent balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin and head of penis), phimosis (a tight foreskin which can’t be fully pulled back), paraphimosis (where the foreskin can’t return to its original position after being pulled back), balanitis xerotica obliterans (a condition that can cause a tight foreskin) or cancer of the penis (which is very rare).

What happens during circumcision?

Circumcision is usually performed as day surgery so you’ll be able to return home on the same day, but you may not be able to drive yourself. The operation may be carried out under a local anaesthetic, so you won’t be able to feel anything below your waist, or under a general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep during surgery.

Circumcision is a relatively quick and simple procedure; the foreskin is removed using surgical scissors or a scalpel. Any bleeding is stopped by cauterising (applying heat) and the incision is either clamped or stitched using dissolvable sutures.

What should I expect after circumcision

We’ll discuss your aftercare and any follow-up appointments with you before you leave hospital. For a few days after the operation you’ll probably experience swelling and discomfort which we’ll help you manage with painkillers.

It’s likely you’ll need to take around a week off work to recover, depending on your occupation, and the wound itself will take around seven to ten days to heal. You ought to avoid having sex for up to four weeks after the operation.

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Taking care of your body and mind at work or in your personal life and knowing who to ask for help is crucial. Our male health hub is here to provide you with further information and signposting to help.

Our Consultant Urological Surgeons

Mr Garnett

Steve Garnett

Consultant Urological Surgeon

Mr Garnett's specialties include prostate disease, kidney surgery and treatments for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

Mr Moore

James Moore

Consultant Urological Surgeon

Mr Moore's specialties include overactive bladder and cystitis.

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