Many people might be shocked at the idea of a painless circumcision, but it is very common in countries where traditional male circumcision is still popular. In the United States, a doctor can perform the procedure for his patient in as little as fifteen minutes, whereas it may take up to two hours in a traditional clinic. Patients don’t have the discomfort or pain associated with an anesthetic.
The condition is often called “phimosis” because it occurs when the penis is infected by a skin-tainting parasite. Condoms can sometimes prevent it, but parents should take steps in protecting their child from it. Phimosis typically affects boys between the ages four and nine, but it can also affect females. Boys who are diagnosed with phimosis are encouraged to receive routine cleanings and examination at the start of puberty in order to detect and treat any underlying problems. While most doctors recommend a painless procedure to remove the penis foreskin, severe cases may require stitches.
Many people are concerned about the potential risks of a painless procedure that involves cutting the skin and possibly scarring the penis. But this is much less of a risk than many other techniques used to treat this condition. For instance, patients who have had laser surgery to treat their genital warts rarely experience any long term pain from the procedure. People who have had electrocautery report only minor discomfort for the first month. Topical anesthetics are used for these procedures to numb the area and reduce pain, but they don’t provide any pain relief at all during the time of the operation. Parents looking for painless circumcision options have many other options. These techniques are easier for both the child as well as the doctor.
Some parents schedule routine infant circumcision before their newborns are ready for the world. Forcing a baby to submit to the procedure before his or her parents are ready can lead to stress and emotional trauma later on in life. Forcing a newborn to undergo a painful and invasive procedure without the appropriate support can have lasting impacts on the child’s trust and confidence in adults and may cause the child to be overly cautious about his or her environment. Parents who want to ensure that their newborn is safe and healthy are not restricted by the medical risks inherent in the first introduction to the world of the baby can find other options.
The open clamp is an alternative that is often used.
This method is safer than standard infant circucision as it doesn’t require the use anesthesia. Instead, the parent uses a disposable plastic device called a mogen clamp to clamp down on the head of the newborn. The mogen clamp is similar to a squeegee, but it is usually made of sterile material. A small amount of blood is pulled from the newborn’s umbilical cord before the clamp is inserted into the scrotum. The resulting wound is gently folded over the glans to cover it and prevent the foreskin from being damaged by excessive bleeding.
Many clients call me with questions regarding their newborn’s procedure. Many parents are anxious about having their baby circumcised but are concerned about possible side effects. After visiting the babies, I ask them about their experiences and reasons for having their baby circumcised. Most clients said that they were glad they had the option. Several also told me that they would definitely recommend that other parents have their newborns performed by a professional.
A procedure known as “keratolysis” is performed by doctors in Alberta on a high number of newborn males. Doctors at Calgary’s Royal Alberta Hospital perform painless circumcision using a technique called puncture-coagulation. This method has been very popular in North America. (The Albertan government and the Royal Alberta Hospital are non-profit organizations. All patients receive medical care at no cost. Keratolysis is painless and leaves no scarring.
While visiting my office recently for an infant circumcision, I was asked if I thought it was safe to allow parents to schedule visits with their son’s pediatrician after his circumcision. My answer was simple: “Absolutely no.” I explained to the couple that I had seen so many cases post-circumcision scarring, that I didn’t feel comfortable recommending the practice. The pediatrician suggested that they see another doctor. Personally, I believe that pediatricians are best for their patients. This is especially true for dealing with traumatizing childhood events, such as infant circumcision.