The Jewish religion and culture are full of traditions, but circumcision is one that is not limited to the Jewish religion alone. The prevalence of circumcision is widespread throughout the United States and the World Health Organization estimates that the percentage of US males who are circumcised is above 75%. 

There are several reasons, aside from religious tradition, as to why parents choose to have their children circumcised and they include health/hygienic, social stigma, and others. One of the most popular questions that parents of newborn baby boys have is how long does a circumcision take to heal? To help give a better understanding of the healing process, it would be beneficial to have an idea of what the procedure entails. 

The Origin of Circumcision

While historians are unable to pinpoint the time in history when circumcision started or the exact reason why it became a ritual, it is believed to have started nearly 4,000 years ago with the first documentation of the procedure. Also, the Jewish circumcision ceremony of brit milah is thousands of years old as well. Over the centuries, the procedure was adopted by more and more people for various reasons. 

jewish synagogue

Brit Milah

The circumcision ceremony began with the commandment of God to Abraham as stated in the book of Genesis and that was to be passed down from generation to generation. The symbolism of circumcision represents a covenant with God that can never end, be forgotten or be broken, unlike many partnerships throughout a man’s life. 

During the ceremony, there are several ritualistic components:

  • Anytime between sunrise to sunset on the eighth day of the newborn’s life
  • Traditionally, the brit milah is performed in a synagogue after morning prayer
  • The mother brings the baby to where the brit milah is performed
  • Kvatters (messengers), usually a husband and wife, bring the baby from the mother to where the circumcision is to be performed
  • Sandek, the father’s representative, is the person who holds the baby during the circumcision
  • For the actual circumcision, the father and mohel stand next to each other and the father hands the mohel the surgical knife to begin
  • The mohel recites a blessing and so does the father during the circumcision
  • There is a festive feast that follows the circumcision and naming ceremony 

Circumcision Procedure and Healing

The circumcision itself is very simple and involves removing the foreskin, which is the piece of skin that covers the head of the penis. Typically, the circumcision of a newborn boy takes place between 24-72 hours after birth to ensure that the baby is healthy and has no underlying medical conditions. If the baby has some health complications, the circumcision will be postponed. 

The next question most have is, “how long does circumcision take?” 

The procedure, whether at the hospital or the brit milah, takes only a few minutes and begins with the penis and foreskin being cleaned to prevent any possible infection. After the area has been sterilized, a pain relief cream, called analgesia, can be applied that can help numb the area to reduce the pain. 

Next, a special clamp is placed on the head of the penis as a guide and the foreskin is cut and removed. Once the foreskin is removed, the doctor will apply petroleum jelly to keep the skin moist and protect the open wound. Then, gauze is applied to protect it against the diaper. It is important to keep this gauze on for 24 hours after the procedure because it can take anywhere from a few minutes to an entire day for the bleeding to stop. 

Caring for your baby’s circumcised penis is no difficult task. With each diaper change, it is crucial to make sure to clean the wound and apply fresh petroleum jelly. As for how long does it take for a newborn circumcision to heal, the most circumcisions will heal in 7-10 days, barring any complications, however, it can take up to a month to be completely healed. 

Overall, nearly all circumcisions are simple, easy procedures that heal up quickly without complications. If you’re a new parent seeking to have the circumcision performed according to the Jewish religious traditions, Dr. Andrew Krinsky is a religiously ordained mohel that has decades of experience performing the bris. Don’t let finding the right mohel be a challenge, call Dr. Andrew Krinsky today to learn more about the ceremony.