Many parents decide to circumcise their sons for religious, ethical, or cultural reasons. There are also health benefits of circumcision, including a decreased risk of urinary tract infections, STD transmission, and penile cancer, says Vanessa Elliott, M.D., a urologist at UCP Urology of Central PA, Inc.
If you give the go-ahead for circumcision, doctors will determine the best method for your baby. The three most popular circumcision instruments are the Gomco Clamp, the Mogen clamp, and the Plastibell device.
Procedures with the Gomco clamp and the Mogen clamp rely on a probe to separate the foreskin from the head, a clamp to stop blood flow, and a scalpel to remove excess foreskin. But the Plastibell technique differs in tools and technique—and it leaves the newborn with a plastic ring on his penis that falls off naturally after 7-10 days.
Here’s everything parents need to know about Plastibell circumcision, including newborn care and healing stages.
The Plastibell Circumcision Procedure
Here are the major steps involved in a Plastibell circumcision.
- The baby is placed on a flat surface with arms and legs restrained.
- He'll receive a pain killer—usually either a topical cream or lidocaine injection. He might also take sugar water to relieve unnecessary discomfort during the procedure.
- The doctor separates the foreskin from the penis head with a probe.
- An appropriately-sized plastic ring is inserted underneath the foreskin.
- The foreskin is stretched over the plastic ring, and it’s secured with a suture (sterile string) to stop blood flow.
- The plastic ring remains on the penis until foreskin falls off naturally in 7-10 days. During this time, your son’s foreskin may darken around the ring.
While some parents stay in the room during the procedure, others wish to leave the baby alone with doctors. He’ll will probably cry during and after the circumcision, but he'll experience little distress, says Dr. Elliot.
Side Effects of Plastibell Circumcision
You might notice swelling or bruising on the penis after a Plastibell circumcision, and the penis might develop a yellow-ish discharge. These are normal side effects that should go away in a few days.
Every circumcision comes with a risk of bleeding or infection. Other complications include a botched circumcision job, which may lead to penile damage, sepsis infection, or even death. See your doctor if Baby is bleeding more than a few drops, running a fever, or doesn’t urinate within eight hours of the circumcision. Also let the M.D. know about redness spreading toward his stomach or black/blue coloring on the penis.
Some complications are specific to the Plastibell circumcision technique. According to a 2011 study published in The Scientific World Journal, “The associated complications include incomplete circumcision due to inadequate bell placement or slippage of the Plastibell while tying the hemostatic suture, and glans (penis head) injury or bleeding due to inadequate hemostatic suture placement.” Again, don’t hesitate to share any concerns with your doctor.
How to Care for Baby After Plastibell Circumcision
Your doctor or mohel (someone trained to perform a Jewish bris ceremony) will give specific instructions for circumcision aftercare. Clean the penis with warm at every diaper change—especially if he has a poopy diaper. Avoid using baby wipes on the penis because they may sting. Wash the penis during Baby's sponge baths, and apply Vaseline or Neosporin so the wound doesn’t attach to his diaper, says Dr. Elliot.
Parents shouldn’t pull on the plastic ring on the penis. It will fall off on its own in about 7-10 weeks. Let your doctor know if it stays on past 10 days, or if it seems to slip down the penis shaft.
The Bottom Line
Deciding to circumcise your newborn is a personal decision. To learn more about the procedure, as well as the various pros and cons of circumcision, check out this article.