Q: My son was born 5 months ago and we opted to have him circumcised while we were still at the hospital. After the circumcision, we did the normal and necessary steps for him to heal. In the past few months we have noticed that his foreskin still seems very large and actually covers his entire penis. At his 2 month checkup I brought this up to his HMO pediatrician and he said that "he would grow into it." He also said to make sure I clean it and pull it back or the foreskin and penis would grow together.
I was still concerned so I asked again to a different pediatrician this time during his four month checkup and she agreed that they did not cut enough of the foreskin and I was told that they couldn't do anything about it until he was of legal age to consent. I am concerned about this as I hear it is a very painful procedure for young boys. I also feel that if they didn't do the job correctly the first time, they should correct it immediately. Is there anything I can do? -- Anonymous
A: Dear Anonymous,
First of all, I can understand why you are signing your question “Anonymous.” Not that you should be ashamed of asking the question, but because you don’t want your son to someday Google your name and discover this post (because obviously it will still be on the internet when he is of Googling age) and be all embarrassed because we were discussing his penis when he wasn’t even half a year old yet. You are a wise internet-savvy mother.
You’re also your son’s number one advocate, and you are doing well to stand up for him if you think he has not gotten the proper medical treatment. People have really strong opinions about circumcision -- I mean really strong -- so don’t let anyone’s well-meaning objections make you feel worse about this than you already do. No longer a case of “should we or shouldn’t we?” The damage, as they say, has already been done, and now you need to figure out what to do about it.
However, since I’m not a doctor, I did ask one about this. She assured me that at this young age, it does often happen that it looks like there is too much foreskin, “but as the penis grows over time- it all ‘evens out.’” Even at his ripe old age of five months. So the first pediatrician may still be correct that there is not an issue.
A urologist is actually the right professional to evaluate your son’s...situation. Other families have had this problem in the past and have indeed had it corrected. Still, one thing to consider is that as babies get older they need general anesthesia for a surgical procedure of this level, and you might not want to put him through that.
Your second doctor’s statement about legal age of consent might not be correct, since you are the parent and thus you are the person who gives consent for your minor child. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about a nose job for a teenaged girl, here. There is much more risk of infection down there, especially if the circumcision wasn’t done right in the first place. It’s no longer a matter of cosmetics -- a botched circumcision could be a matter that affects your son’s health.
Bottom line is, if your mother’s intuition -- that thing that makes you nauseous to the very bottom of your soul because you just know something’s wrong even after you have exhausted all options to convince you of the contrary -- is telling you that something really is wrong, take your son to a specialist. Even if your pediatrician refuses to give you a referral. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover it. It will be worth the extra cost to find out just what you’re dealing with and what you need to do to fix it. Or, it will be worth the money to put your mind at ease. Otherwise, you’ll have the rest of your son’s life to regret not doing something about it now.
Do you have a dilemma that’s too big for your girlfriends, but too small for a therapist? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I may choose to answer it in next week’s column. I’ve got your back, sister.