Circumcision styles explained – high & tight or low & loose?

If you thought all circumcisions look the same, think again! There are many different circumcision styles. How a circumcision looks can vary hugely on how the surgery is performed.

If you are already circumcised you may wish to know what style you have. Or, if you are looking to get circumcised, understanding the different circumcision styles will help you make an informed choice about your future.

Circumcision styles tend to be described by looking at where the scar is located on the shaft of the penis (high or low) as well as the tightness of the remaining skin.

Tightness – tight or loose?

Tightness is determined by how much foreskin is removed during surgery. A loose circumcision is one in which more of the foreskin is retained. Removing more of the foreskin results in a tight circumcision.

A tight circumcision should nonetheless be comfortable, as the skin is naturally elastic.

Whilst most circumcisions expose the head of the penis when both erect and flaccid, some circumcisions may be so loose that the head of the penis remains partially covered when flaccid.

Position – high or low?

The position of the circumcision scar on the shaft tells us whether a circumcision is considered high or low.

A high circumcision removes more of the outer foreskin than the inner foreskin. This means that the circumcision scar – where the remaining inner foreskin and shaft skin heal – is closer to the middle of the penis shaft.

In a low circumcision, the opposite is true. The inner foreskin is almost entirely removed and the circumcision scar forms closer to the head of the penis.

The four common circumcision styles

There are four common circumcision styles when taking into account tightness and scar position. These are:

High and tight

High and tight is one of the most popular circumcision styles. It is a common style in infant circumcisions performed in the United States.

A high and tight circumcision retains much of the inner foreskin, which is folded outward onto shaft. The remaining outer foreskin as well as some of the shaft skin is removed to tauten the skin and permanently expose the head of the penis.

High and loose

Like a high and tight circumcision, high and loose retains most of the inner foreskin. A larger amount of outer foreskin and shaft skin is kept which can lead to some bunching of the skin and/or partial covering of the penis head.

Low and tight

In a low and tight circumcision, the majority of the inner foreskin is removed. The scar line is close to the head of the penis. Some of the outer foreskin is removed to maintain tension on the shaft skin which results in a tight style with the head of the penis permanently exposed.

Low and loose

A low and loose circumcision removes the majority of the inner foreskin in favour of retaining the majority of the shaft skin and outer foreskin. This results in a circumcision with a loose shaft skin that may lead to bunching or partial covering of the penis head.

What about a partial circumcision?

A partial circumcision involves the removal of a portion of foreskin. However, unlike a ‘full’ circumcision, care is taken to retain as much of the foreskin as possible. A partial circumcision is sometimes offered as a treatment for phimosis, although there is a high risk of phimosis recurring following a partial circumcision.

Reproduction of illustrations is permitted provided credit and a weblink is given to myadultcircumcision.org. You may not modify the illustrations without prior permission. There are three skin tones:

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