Stitches, skin glue or staples for adult circumcision? A guide to your options

During circumcision, your foreskin is surgically removed.

Part of the process is reconnecting the inner skin of the remaining foreskin and the outer skin of the shaft so that it can heal neatly and with minimal scarring.

(This is also why many circumcised penises have a ‘two tone’ appearance, with the remaining inner foreskin a slightly different colour to the external skin on the shaft of the penis.)

Traditionally, the skin is rejoined using stitches to physically hold the two ends together, just as a piece of clothing is sewn together from different cuts of fabric.

More recently, clinics and surgeons have started offering alternatives to stitches thanks to the advancements in medical science. These include skin glue and staples.

All three options – stitches, glue and staples – are safe for use during circumcision.

Dissolvable stitches (sutures)

The traditional way to close the circumcision wound in the past has been the use of stitches.

Whilst there are different types of stitches, the most common type used in circumcision are dissolving stitches. These do not require a second visit to your surgeon for removal and will naturally start to fray and dissolve over time.

These types of stitches tend to dissolve by themselves within 10-14 days, although they can take up to four weeks to fully disappear.

Whilst stitches are a good way of reconnecting the skin, they can sometimes result in additional scarring when they do not dissolve (or are not removed) quickly enough. This can lead to permanent stitch marks which are sometimes called ‘train tracks’ or ‘railroad tracks’ due to the opposing dots on either side of the wound.

To avoid stitch marks, it is important to remove stitches in a timely manner, including any dissolving stitches that have not disappeared after 12-14 days.

Pros: a strong way to reattach the skin

Cons: can lead to stitch marks if left in too long, takes longer than skin glue

Skin glue in circumcisions

A relatively recent invention, surgical glue is becoming popular for adult circumcisions.

Skin glue is a special skin-safe liquid gel that applies to the edges of the circumcision wound. It is sometimes used in combination with stitches or medical tape, although it can also be used by itself.

Skin glue takes between 3-5 minutes to set in place, and is a faster way to close the wound than using stitches.

It forms a protective thin, waterproof layer over the wound, which helps to prevent infection whilst your body heals itself. It should automatically fall or peel off within 5 – 10 days.

Another benefit of using skin glue in circumcision is that there are no stitches that need to be removed. Sometimes, stitches do not dissolve properly or are not removed quickly enough, which can result in a less attractive circumcision due to unnecessary scarring.

Pros: waterproof, lower risk of infection, no stitch marks

Cons: extra care should be taken not to get the glue wet for the first few days

Circumcision staples

Another modern alternative to stitches are staples. These are similar to stitches but instead of being made of thread they are made of metal.

Staples are roughly 1/3 the size of paper staples and are typically used in circumcisions using an automated system such as ZSR circumcisions.

Staples typically start falling out within 1 week of surgery, although it can take as long as 4-6 weeks for all to fall out. Some can remain and must be removed to avoid being buried in the wound.

It is recommended that you try and push them off or pull them out after 10-14 days using tweezers or cotton buds, so long as it is relatively painless.

Pros: often used in fast, automated circumcisions

Cons: any remaining staples must be removed if they do not fall off

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