Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the skin covering the head of the penis (the glans). This procedure is sometimes carried out in infancy for religious reasons. In the past, circumcision was often performed routinely in childhood in the belief that it would improve hygiene, but this practice is no longer recommended. In older boys and men, circumcision may be necessary if the foreskin becomes too tight to be pulled back fully (see Phimosis). When the operation is carried out in infancy, only local anaesthesia is required, but boys and men are usually given a general anaesthetic before undergoing surgery.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.