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Circumcision – Not so risk free surgery

18th December 2019

By Kate Goodman, Medical Negligence Solicitor

Male circumcision has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Circumcision is a medical procedure that involves the surgical removal of the foreskin from over the penis. Men, not just babies, undergo the procedure for a number of reasons, be it religious, cosmetic or medical. However, it is not always appreciated that the procedure carries risks; and those risks can be considerable.

The NHS will perform circumcisions for medical reasons; the most common being Phimosis (where the foreskin is too tight) but there are many other medical reasons why a circumcision may be required. Circumcisions for religion and cosmetic reasons are usually performed in private clinics and at a cost. The procedure should be carried out by a qualified surgeon and they should perform the procedure in a sterile medical environment.

If you are considering surgery, you should research the clinic carefully and check the reviews of the surgeons before choosing where to have the surgery.

Despite the myths around circumcision, the procedure is not risk free and the consequences of any complications cannot be underestimated. Some of the risks can result in lifelong complications and can impact on you physically and mentally. 

It is therefore really important to consider carefully whether you want or need to have the surgery before you make the decision to go ahead. Your surgeon should discuss whether surgery is the best option for you as there are often alternative, less invasive options that you could try before opting for circumcision. You may also want to research your options yourself so you are fully informed of your choice.

Before surgery, your surgeon should provide you with information on the recognised risks of the procedure. Not everyone suffers complications, and sometimes things can happen that are outside the norm. However, most surgeons would agree that the most commonly occurring risks include:

  • Bleeding – as the foreskin is being cut during the procedure, there is a risk of bleeding. It can therefore cause bruising and if the bleeding is really bad, it can cause a haematoma which is a collection of blood under the skin, and this may need draining.
  • Infection – any surgery also carries a risk of developing an infection, which can range from a mild infection requiring antibiotics to sepsis if it goes untreated.
  • Swelling – the penis is likely to be swollen for a few days following the surgery, but if this continues, it may be a sign that something else is going on.
  • Nerve damage – there is a risk of damage to the nerves, which can result in a loss of sensation or pain in the penis. This can be temporary or permanent.
  • Scarring – a scar is inevitable but they can also be sore and do not always heal as well as hoped.

Not all complications are normal, and if things go badly wrong it can be devastating.

Whilst it is not always possible to avoid a complication, it is important to follow the post-operative advice and to watch for signs that something is wrong; and get it checked out by the surgeon or a GP quickly.  

If you have suffered as a result of circumcision, Fletchers Solicitors are able to tell you whether the complication you have suffered was the result of substandard treatment.

Further Reading…

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