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Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

Circumcision fact sheet


A circumcision involves the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis. The procedure may be conducted within the public health system when the foreskin is scarred or for other medical reasons.

What does it involve?

The operation is conducted while your child is under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make an incision around the tip of the penis to remove the foreskin. The edges of the wound will usually be stitched down.

How long will it take?

Your child will be admitted to hospital for one day and the operation will usually take between 45 minutes and one hour. This includes the anaesthetic, operation and time spent in the recovery room.

After the operation

Your child’s doctor will speak with you after the operation and let you know how everything went.

When your child wakes up, he may like some clear fluids (water, cordial etc.). If no nausea or vomiting occurs, your child may have a light meal such as a sandwich.

Your child should be well enough to go home about two hours after the operation.

Care at home

The incision site on your child’s penis will appear red or bruised and swollen, but this is normal. Redness will decrease in a few days. The stitches will dissolve by themselves and do not need to be removed.

You can bathe or shower your child after 48 hours however, do not allow them to sit for extended periods in the bath for one week after surgery. Apply vaseline to the nappy to prevent the penis from sticking to it and, if your child is toilet trained, he may not wish to wear underwear for a few days.

Vigorous activities like trampolining, roller blading and bike riding may need to be restricted for the first 10 days as it may cause some discomfort. A sarong may be more comfortable to wear at home. He can return to school when comfortable in his school clothes.


Your child can drink about two hours after the operation. Once tolerating fluids your child can have a normal diet.

Most children continue with their normal diet the next day. Babies may have clear fluids to start with and then breast milk or formula as usual.

If your child experiences nausea or vomiting when home – stop food and fluids for one hour then give sips of clear fluid, dry toast or a biscuit.

Pain relief

After surgery it is important to provide regular pain relief for your child at home to ensure they are comfortable during their recovery. Medications such as paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory drug such as Ibuprofen (Nurofen©) should be sufficient to relieve your child’s discomfort. These medications are available over the counter at pharmacies.

Your anaesthesist, surgeon, pharmacist and/or nursing staff will discuss the suitability of these medications for your child before you go home.

If your child has bleeding problems or asthma, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before you give them Ibuprofen (Nurofen©). Do NOT give Asprin to your child.

When to seek medical advice

Contact the hospital if your child has the following symptoms:

  • excessive swelling
  • high temperature (above 37.5°C)
  • any pus from the operation site
  • bleeding
  • vomiting (more than three or four times).

Contact us

Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS178. Developed by Department of Paediatric Surgery and Urology. Updated: December 2016. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.