What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical removal of your child’s foreskin (the skin covering the tip of the penis). A surgeon may carry out circumcision for various medical conditions in boys.

Our paediatric surgeons work together with our specialist urology team to treat a range of urological conditions in children at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Why might a circumcision be performed?

Circumcision may be recommended to treat conditions that affect the penis, such as:

  • Phimosis – this is when the foreskin becomes too tight and cannot be pulled back over the head of your child’s penis. The condition can cause pain and, in some cases, make urination difficult. In paraphimosis, the foreskin cannot cover the head of your child’s penis once it’s pulled back. As a result, the penis’s head becomes swollen and painful and they would need prompt treatment to prevent blood flow restriction.
  • Balanitis – is another condition that affects the foreskin. In balanitis, the foreskin and head of your child’s penis become inflamed and infected. Sometimes, this condition recurs and circumcision is the most suitable treatment.
  • Lichen sclerosus (Balanitis xerotica obliterans) – this is a skin condition that can cause scarring of the foreskin. In some cases, the recommended treatment for this is circumcision.
  • Cancer of the penis – this is rare, but can cause a growth or ulcer at the end of the penis or under the foreskin, bleeding, discharge and skin changes. One of the recommended treatments for penile cancer is circumcision.

Procedure details

How does the procedure work?

We carry out circumcision as a day-patient procedure, which means your child can go home on the same day, as long as there are no complications.

Once you arrive at the hospital, the caring medical team will see you and your child to explain the procedure. The team will include your child’s surgeon and anaesthetist; you’ll have the opportunity to ask them any questions at this point.

Circumcision is performed under a general anaesthetic. It is a straightforward procedure that removes the foreskin with a scalpel or surgical scissors. The surgeon stops the bleeding using cauterisation (heat) and stitches the skin with dissolvable sutures.

Benefits and risks

Benefits of a circumcision

The benefits of circumcision include:

  • reduced risk of urinary tract infections
  • reduced risk of penile cancer
  • prevention of balanitis and phimosis
  • easier to maintain personal hygiene.

If you’re unsure whether circumcision is right for your child, speak with a member of our team who will be happy to discuss options with you.

Risks of a circumcision

Although circumcision is a simple procedure, like all surgeries there are some risks associated with it.

Risks of circumcision can include:

  • pain
  • bleeding and infection
  • irritation of the head of the penis
  • increased risk of inflammation of the penis opening.

Our team are dedicated to minimising these risks and providing you and your child with safe and effective treatment.

Our paediatric urology and general surgery team at Evelina London specialise in circumcision and the treatment of urological conditions, so you can rest assured that you are in the best hands.

If you have any questions about circumcision, please contact us. We will be happy to provide the answers you need to make the right choice for you and your health.


Content verified by Mr Hemanshoo Thakkar, consultant paediatric surgeon.

Frequently asked questions

How long does a circumcision take?

A circumcision procedure should only take around 30 minutes to complete. However, if there are any rare complications, it can take slightly longer.

Is circumcision reversible?

No, circumcision is not reversible.

How long does it take to recover from a circumcision?

It will take around 10 days for your child to heal and recover from a circumcision completely. They may need to take up to a week off of school, but the consultant will be able to advise at the time. The dissolvable stitches will disappear within four weeks.

Is circumcision recovery painful?

In the first three or four days, your child may experience discomfort and swelling around the head of your penis. However, over-the-counter pain relief medication can help. Try to ensure they wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent further irritation.

Can you get an infection after the operation?

It is possible for your child to get an infection after a circumcision, but it can be avoided by following proper aftercare guidance. Always seek medical advice if they experience: increased redness, a high temperature, persistent pain or throbbing that isn’t getting better.


Based at the state-of-the-art children’s hospital, Evelina London, we offer a calm, comforting environment, where we put your child first while delivering the very highest levels of clinical excellence, quality and care.

Book an appointment with our renowned paediatric team today.

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