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Do You Know: About circumcision revision surgery?

We know the rate of neonatal circumcision in the United States is slowly falling. In the meantime, the rate of circumcision “re-do’s” — referred to in the medical literature as “circumcision revisions” — is rising. A lot.

Circumcision revision surgery is both highly unfortunate — and unsurprising.

Conversations about penises — how they function and what people think they should look like — were not commonplace just a decade ago. Now, as circumcision rates continue to decline, the practice is being widely discussed and debated. Almost daily, news articles, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and the growth of new support and advocacy groups show the growing discussion and, in turn, contribute to growing awareness.

With all this penis talk, American parents are paying a lot of attention (sometimes, it seems, way too much attention) to their sons’ penises. On social media and in direct inquiries to Intact America, parents frequently write that their son’s circumcision “doesn’t look right,” and they want to know how to get it “fixed.” Our network of pediatric urologists report that the number of parents seeking circumcision “revisions” is growing, and the academic literature seems to support this.

The authors of a 2013 article published in Clinical Pediatrics reviewed five years of data from freestanding children’s hospitals affiliated with the Child Health Corporation of America. After excluding patients with other penile pathologies, they found that the rate of circumcision revision procedures increased significantly over the 5-year period when compared to the rate of neonatal circumcision, and suggest that the main reason for the increase was “changing standards of satisfaction” among parents of circumcised boys. In other words, parents take their sons for a second surgery — this one requiring risky general anesthesia — because they aren’t happy with the handiwork of the original circumcising doctor or mohel. Some of the complaints from parents seeking a “penile touch-up” (not to be confused with surgeries required to repair circumcision-related functional impairments) for their sons include too little foreskin removed; “uneven” appearance of the remaining foreskin; or the child’s penis pulling to one side. While the repair might make the parent feel better, it exposes the child to additional risks, both physical and psychological, and it can never restore the sensitive tissue removed in the circumcision.

The most unfortunate thing, though, about circumcision revision surgery in a child is that it is the result of a harmful procedure that was NOT necessary in the first place. And that just as the child was forced to endure a primal wound that he could neither consent to nor understand, he is now being forced to undergo a second surgery — more painful and more risky than the first.

Based on social change theory and examples of past movements for social equality and human rights, the United States is moving toward a tipping point — that point at which a critical mass of Americans will have come to believe that keeping boys intact is the normal, desirable thing to do. This means more and more baby boys will be kept intact, and babies who are kept intact will never need their penises to be “revised.”



Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.