Adult Circumcision for Medical & Personal Reasons

Young man looking at a computer screen contemplating adult circumcision for either medical or personal reasons | Pacific Urology | Walnut Creek, CA

Circumcisions are done for a variety of reasons including personal, social and religious reasons. While they can be done at any age, in adulthood circumcisions are often done for medical reasons such as phimosis, which is a narrowing of the foreskin causing an inability to retract it. This can lead to hygiene issues as well as problems with sexual function, or paraphimosis, which is when the tight foreskin gets trapped behind the head of the penis.

We can help you make the right decision

If you are considering an adult circumcision, one of our board-certified urologists will discuss all aspects of the procedure and answer your questions.

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What are the benefits of circumcision?

In newborns, circumcision can prevent potential problems such as urinary tract infections, paraphimosis and penile cancer in the first year of life. Later in life the circumcision may also result in a reduction in sexually transmitted infections including human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer in women, and reductions in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Studies in Africa show a reduction in transmission of HIV in circumcised men of 50% to 60%.

One must weigh the benefits of circumcision against the complications, which include meatal stenosis (narrowing of the opening), adhesions, possibly buried penis, bleeding and poor cosmetic result. These risks are very low when circumcision is performed by an experienced practitioner. The incidence of serious complications is minimal and minor complications occur in around 3% of procedures. 

How is adult circumcision performed?

The procedure is usually done in an outpatient surgery center under general anesthesia. However, adult circumcisions can also be done in the office under local anesthesia. Prior to making the incision a generous amount of local anesthesia, such as lidocaine, is injected. This serves to help reduce pain for many hours after the procedure. Although intimidating, once the penile nerve block has taken effect, there is no pain.

The surgery usually takes 30 minutes. Once you are awake you can go home to rest. Your physician may or may not place a dressing depending on the situation; if there is a dressing, it will typically stay on for two days. 

Related Reading: The Circumcision Procedure

The first week after the circumcision it is best to take it easy and stay home from work. Showering is not recommended for the first three days after the procedure. Limited activity is advised for a few weeks, and it may take a month before you should consider having sex.

Care for the area includes the application of an antibiotic ointment, such as bacitracin or Neosporin, to prevent adhesions. An ice pack can help prevent swelling, which along with bruising is a common occurrence and not a cause for concern.

There will be some inflammation, localized redness and minor bleeding from the incision. However, blood dripping from the healing area is rare and should prompt a phone call or immediate follow up. The incision will be well healed after six weeks, but cosmetically it can take several months until it starts to look “normal” again.

Patients often want to know what the out-of-pocket cost is for adult circumcision. If your insurance does not cover the procedure, the cost will total around $2,500 for the surgical and facility fees.