Many parents wonder about the best age to have their son circumcised. This page explains why Dr. Said Bakir, having performing circumcisions for over 20 years with the Plastibell device, advises one to three months as the ideal time for child circumcision.
Compared to adult circumcision, childhood circumcisions are done using simpler techniques and healing is usually quicker. Men circumcised in childhood usually have a better cosmetic outcome as the scar line has faded more over time.
For children, infancy is the ideal time as at this age, babies feel less pain, move less during the circumcision and will have no recollection of the operation. Most religious traditions recommend an early circumcision.
From our experience, we have seen the Plastibell method work best when a child is circumcised between the ages of one and three months old. This is the age that has been most comfortable for mother and child both during the operation and in the recovery period. The IMC has recommended this age for over a decade. Furthermore, recent research publications have suggested that the recent trauma of childbirth significantly lowers the pain threshold leading to a reduced pain and stress response particularly in the first 90 days of life. But we do generally expect any baby in the first 2 years of life to have a comfortable circumcision with the Plastibell device. For all babies and children, we recommend local anaesthetic is used so that pain receptors and blocked and the skin is numb prior to surgery.
Circumcision at the age of 7 or 8 days is held as the ideal time for circumcision in many religions and cultural traditions. We would have to agree that this may have been an excellent age to perform circumcision with older methods of circumcision where bleeding and poor healing were significant complications and delaying circumcision may further increase the risk of these complications occurring. However the Plastibell device seems to perform best between one and three months but is also regularly performed on babies younger than one month safely and effectively. Circumcision at the IMC can be performed on boys from the age of 7 days old, provided they are fit and well.
Circumcision for any age is generally a minor, well-tolerated procedure. However, we recommend using a circumcision service that routinely provides adequate local anaesthetic to make the procedure as pain-free as possible. Adequate oral pain relief should be used in the recovery period which can last up to two weeks (Calpol is the one we give to parents at the IMC). We also provides pain-relieving anti-inflammatory ointments which we advise patients to use generously during this time.
For children, the environment and attitudes of parents and carers also play a big role in how comfortable a child is during a circumcision. We recommend you read the advice on how to prepare your son for a comfortable circumcision experience here.
We recommend not delaying circumcision further as the procedure becomes less simple the older than child becomes.