Why Some Men Get Circumcised as Adults, and How it Works
Getting circumcised often is associated with baby boys. However, many people are surprised to learn that adults can request the procedure. In fact, at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we perform somewhere between 50 and 100 adult circumcisions each year.
Adult circumcision is a reconstructive procedure that removes excess foreskin from the shaft of the penis. Because most American men are circumcised, those who aren’t can feel self-conscious, as they worry whether their partners find it unusual. Furthermore, some skin conditions can lead to an adult circumcision, including:
- Genital warts: When large or multiple warts develop on the foreskin, circumcision is the preferred approach.
- Lichen sclerosus: An immune-mediated skin condition, this can cause scarring of the foreskin and cause the skin to become tight around the shaft and head of the penis, which can result in infections.
- Phimosis: When foreskin tightens and traps urine underneath the skin, it can lead to inflammation or an infection on the head of the penis or skin, or in the urinary tract.
We saw one man who was in his 50s and experiencing tight penis foreskin, frequent infections, and phimosis. He received a circumcision and shortly after was infection- and symptom-free—just a month after surgery.
LISTEN: Dr. Venkatesan discusses adult circumcision in the Medical Intel podcast.
How are Adult Circumcisions Performed?
During a circumcision, two parallel incisions are made around the penis—one upstream from the skin that’s set to be removed and one downstream. Then, we unwrap the excess skin from the penis and sew the two remaining edges back together.
Most often, we see men in their late teens or early 20s who are first moving out on their own or becoming sexually active. After the minimally invasive surgery, recovery is very manageable. Men considering a circumcision should consult with their urologist to fully understand the procedure and what to expect during recovery.
What Can I Expect During Recovery?
Following surgery, patients can immediately urinate on their own. Recovery usually involves some activity restrictions, however. For example, patients must refrain from sexual activities for about four weeks while the stitches and incisions heal. They also should avoid any heavy exercise for the first two weeks to avoid sweating and putting strain on the incision to ensure it heals properly.
Basic pain medication and antibiotics are given to patients after surgery, but they usually only need them for one week. After that, they’re usually back to work and doing most of their everyday activities.
Are There Any More Risks if I Don’t Get Circumcised?
Not being circumcised thankfully doesn’t have any other concrete risks, outside of increasing the likelihood of skin conditions. However, evidence does suggest that circumcisions before puberty might decrease the risk of penile cancer (although it is very rare to begin with).
Furthermore, circumcisions sometimes are used outside of the U.S. to prevent HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. But there’s no compelling evidence that they reduce the risk.
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we’re experts in caring for men who seek a circumcision, because we’re a referral center that routinely sees patients with complex skin conditions. Due to the number of patients we treat with adult circumcisions, we truly offer advanced, results-tested care.
Adult circumcisions occur quite often in the U.S. Whether it’s because of appearance concerns or the result of a medical condition, expert treatment is available for you and your family.