Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis (a small flap of skin that covers its tip), generally performed shortly after birth. This is a highly safe procedure when performed in a sterile environment by a specially trained professional or physician, such as a urologist. Bleeding is minimal and infections are rare.

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV, HPV, and other sexually transmitted infections as well as penile and prostate cancers and urinary tract infections. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the health benefits of newborn circumcision outweigh the risks; however, they do not recommend making this a universal policy, since the final decision should be left to the parent to make.

Circumcisions are most commonly performed before the child is one month old. In these cases, the procedure can be administered either by an obstetrician at the hospital or, in some instances, parents choose to have a professionally trained mohel perform the removal during a Jewish ceremony. When circumcisions are done in this fashion, only a local anesthetic is needed.

After a child is a one month old, circumcisions can be administered in an operating room using general anesthesia by a pediatric urologist.

Certain children are not appropriate candidates for circumcision, including premature babies, babies with a bleeding disorder, and babies with conditions whose correction might require foreskin tissue as part of the repair.

At The Mount Sinai Hospital, Jeffrey A. Stock, MD, performs circumcisions on both newborns and infants. Our highest priority is to provide comfort for the child during the procedure. Sucrose pacifiers, low room lighting, and local anesthetics are our standard of care, as well as acetaminophen for postoperative pain control.

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