Argument: Circumcisions often remove too much foreskin

Issue Report: Infant male circumcision


Rosemary Romberg. “Circumcision – The Painful Dilemma. Chapter Eleven: Complications of Circumcision (Condensed)”. Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Massachusetts. 1985 – Excessive Skin Loss

A newborn baby’s penis is very tiny. Usually only about one-half inch of skin is amputated during circumcision. Some operators tend to take off more than others, consequently there are many “varieties” of circumcised penises. Some males have no remaining foreskin while others have a sizeable ring of skin left in place.

Considerable debate abounds over what is the “right” amount of foreskin to cut off. (Hopefully soon we will decide that the best answer is “none!”) Taking off a small amount of skin can result in phimosis of the remaining foreskin with possible need for repeat circumcision. However, devastating complications result from cutting off too much skin. The fact that the ultimate size of the penile shaft, proportionate to the foreskin, is not attained until later in life, further complicates the matter. A newborn’s foreskin usually extends far beyond the glans. It may appear overly long, but as he matures he will in effect “grow into it.”

Excessive skin loss can result from the operator severing too much foreskin, from infection of the wound resulting in tissue death, or from a burn caused by an electrocautery device. Sometimes the entire penile shaft becomes denuded and skin grafting is necessary. Other times the results are less drastic and the wound heals, but as the individual grows older his penile skin becomes too tight, causing discomfort on erection.