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Circumcision is the excision of the foreskin, the retractable fold of skin that covers the head of the penis. It is a treatment option for a tight foreskin (phimosis) where it is difficult to retract the foreskin over the head of the penis. Phimosis often causes pain when the penis is erect, and, in rare cases, passing urine may become difficult. Mild phimosis cases can be treated with a steroid cream to help soften the skin and make it easier to retract. Phimosis can also result in recurrent painful infections of the foreskin (balanitis), which is often an indication for circumcision.

Circumcision is carried out under a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic injection. There is a 1 in 50 risk of post-operative bleeding or infection that requires treatment. Other possible complications include tenderness around the scar, and a reduction in sensation in the head of the penis during sex. Very occasionally, further surgery is required to improve the cosmetic appearance.

Alternative, less invasive surgical procedures to circumcision include a release of preputial adhesions, division of the frenulum (frenuloplasty), and preputioplasty. These may not be appropriate in many cases, and our urologist can advise on this.

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