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Circumcision - Risks

All surgical procedures have risks. Problems after circumcision are not common. Minor problems are short-term and may include:

  • Oozing or slight bleeding from the surgical site.
  • Infection of the circumcision site or at the opening to the urethra.
  • Irritation of the exposed tip of the penis (glans) as a result of contact with stool or urine.

Long-term problems can include:

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  • Damage to the opening of the urethra, which leads from the bladder to the tip of the penis (meatal stenosis).
  • Scarring of the penis from infection or surgical error. For example:
    • The entire foreskin may not be removed, leaving portions of it attached to the penis (skin bridge). This may cause pain during erection.
    • Scar tissue can grow outward toward the tip of the penis from the cut edge of the foreskin. Repeat surgery on the penis may be required to improve appearance or to allow normal passage of urine if the opening from the bladder has been blocked by this scar tissue.
    • The outer skin layer (or layers) of the penis may be removed accidentally.
    • An opening that is too small for the foreskin to retract over the penis (phimosis) can happen if too little foreskin is removed.

Major problems are very rare but can include:

  • The removal of more skin from the penis than the doctor intended.
  • Too much bleeding. Stitches may be needed to stop the bleeding.
  • Serious, life-threatening bacterial infection.
  • Partial or full removal (amputation) of the tip of the penis. (This is extremely rare.)

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 17, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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