Chapter 10


I was born in 1940 in an Army hospital. A circumcision was performed approximately six hours after birth.

I cannot pinpoint the exact time when the realization came that I was damaged — incomplete. My early recollection around the age of 4 years was that something was missing – and with it an intense feeling of loss coupled with a complete lack of understanding as to what had happened. The overwhelming feeling was not that I was simply different, but that something was terribly wrong. During grade school years I can remember the depression I felt when I realized that the scar signified amputation. Something had been cut off of me that other boys had. Why me? Did I do something wrong? Was this a punishment? If other boys had foreskins why didn’t I have mine? They could appear circumcised by simply retracting their foreskins, but there was no way that I could gather enough skin to cover the head of my penis to look non-circumcised. My circumcision was exceedingly tight. Some three-quarters of the shaft skin had been amputated. I was literally “scalped.” In addition, I had curious “bumps” along the scar line which were painful to the touch and the glans was often painfully abraded even to the point of bleeding, by the rubbing of underwear. Also there were “holes” in several places around the scar lines with one particularly large hole created by an unhealed flap of skin where the frenulum had been severed about 1/4 inch from the glans. Thirty years later, I learned that the “bumps” were granulomas just under the skin surface involved in nerve damage and that the flaps were left over from sutures and uneven healing.

One particularly vivid memory as a first grader is an afternoon spent trying to pull enough skin over the glans to create a foreskin and keep it in place with a band aid. Using six year old logic. I thought that this would allow the skin to “grow out.” That afternoon was a study in frustration, pain, panic and inadequacy. Even so, I remember trying other ways during the next few years – adhesive tape, clay, cardboard-anything I could think of which might force the stump of skin to cover the head.

By the time I was in high school, my masculine identity had been established as one of every other male being better than I was. If he was uncircumcised, he was complete and therefore better. If he was circumcised, he was also better than me because (apparently) he was not troubled by it as I was.

When I was in high school I began some preliminary research into circumcision — the medical reasons which were given at the time and the religious issues. Although there was precious little written dissent from medical authorities, I began to have more and more difficulty with the basic logic of such surgery. Over the years as isolated bits of research would debunk one more of the “reasons,” I became more and more angry and dissatisfied both with the fact of my circumcision and especially the manner of it – a real “hack job.” I also began developing associated problems with overweight, depression, poor school adjustment and peer group social problems. The ability to focus on daily living was becoming increasingly difficult. And the worst of it was that there was not one person, adult or peer, that I was able to talk to!! A couple of initial attempts had been met with either complete amusement or total embarrassment. One learns very quickly to keep controversial problems a secret! Even so, I was unwilling to accept my circumcised state, especially considering the poor results and the continuing pain and abrasions

By the time I entered college I had researched enough to know that many peoples of the world were never circumcised and the dire predictions of American physicians toward the uncircumcised seemed totally unrealistic. I concluded that circumcision was a ritual peculiar to only some peoples, and that in terms of medical practice, an amputation had been performed for no reason other than the obstetrician’s faith in a medical practice currently in vogue. (How any rational person can honestly believe that the cutting off of a piece of skin will save him from disease or make him religious is still beyond me!)

In the more cosmopolitan atmosphere of college, I was able to share my thoughts with some peers without the devastating reactions of the earlier attempts. This provided a safety valve of sorts while I continued collecting data with the added facet of medical reports concerning surgical repairs. Very little was available, but what there was convinced me that there should be some way of, if not reconstructing a foreskin, at least alleviating my pain problems. I consulted a physician who could not conceive of anyone wanting a foreskin. He did not comprehend the pain I was having, but he did surgically remove in an office procedure under a local anesthetic the largest (and unsightliest) granuloma on the dorsal scar. The result was a little less pain in one spot and the beginning of an earnest search to find a doctor who could and would undertake to repair and reconstruct. A number of initial inquiries were met with such ridicule that it literally threw me back for long recovery periods until I would get up the courage to try again with the almost sure knowledge that I would be subjected to more ridicule. I tried the family doctor and while not ridiculed directly was given a pat on the head and an immediate appointment with a psychiatrist. This particular psychiatrist was such a complete fiasco and so filled with hostility that it took me several years to revive the courage to approach anyone again. I wrote letters to some plastic surgeons. When there was a reply it was judgmental, curt, and unemotional: “There is no reason to attempt this, and no way to do it!” I tried a local plastic surgeon who had the cruelest diagnosis of all: “Yes,” he said, “It is possible to create a tube of skin surgically from a graft, but under no circumstances would I do it!” That rebuff took me another several years to reconcile. I wrote to Ann Landers and got a gentle admonishment to try a psychiatrist as quickly as possible. The inequity of the whole thing really depressed me. Here I found it acceptable, even encouraged, for any man to walk in off the street to any doctor and have a circumcision performed and be considered to have made an appropriate and laudable choice. On the other hand, let someone come along who wishes to be uncircumcised and he is immediately psychologically suspect! (One head of a psychiatric clinic once told me that all men who had a wish to be uncircumcised were paranoid, schizophrenic personalities!)

Some years later I tried the family doctor again and managed to convince him that I was in constant pain and irritation, and serious about repair. This time he made a medical referral which quickly led to a series of doctors. I finally met Dr. Don Greer of the University of Texas Medical School Plastic Surgery Department. He was the first to spend any amount of non-judgmental time and give any positive confirmation to the availability of surgical repair and reconstruction techniques. Although the idea of creating a foreskin was unique to him, he agreed to research medical and surgical angles for six months and I was to undergo some therapy as a pre-surgical requirement. If, in six months he found there was adequate plastic surgical technique available to produced the desired results and if I still wanted to gamble, then we would go ahead.

The empathy and perception of this man to be able to see through all the years of anger, pain, frustration and rejection was no less than a miracle.

The initial surgical procedure was completed in May of 1977. A double pedicle graft was raised from the lower scrotal area approximately 6″ by 2″ and imbedded into a complete circular incision over the original circumcision site. The residual membranes were turned over the glans creating a foreskin with about 4/5 coverage of the glans. The hospital stay was five days and a catheter was in place for some 12 days. Post-operative swelling was considerable but the complete graft “took” and in a second and third procedure, the two connective pedicles were cut free and the newly constructed foreskin was utilizing its own internally generated blood supply. Two subsequent operations a year later removed scar tissue and repositioned some of the pedicle closure areas. There is still some swelling as the lymphatic system slowly regenerates. There is a marked reduction in pain due to the excision of the granulomas. There is still extreme sensitivity of the glans to pain, however, the coverage of the glans renders it much less subject to the daily stresses of underwear abrasion. A vein system has grown across the surgical line and there is some return of gross feeling in the graft, although by no means is it the equivalent of a natural foreskin.

While I can understand the motive of the obstetrician in performing circumcisions according to the practices of his time, I can never forgive him the fact that he botched the procedure miserably. I have been subjected to an amputation for no good reason, without my consent (or my parents-they were not asked!) and to which I would never have agreed had I been consulted.

As of this writing, five restoration surgeries have been performed here. Three more are scheduled for the coming year. The number of surgical steps has been reduced as has the time between the steps.

Research has revealed that these procedures have been performed throughout history. In the United States currently there are a number of people who have had such repairs done.

Intensive psychiatric testing and evaluation has shown that there are no psychiatric reasons for withholding this type of surgery other than the physical and emotional inability to withstand surgical stress in itself.

People should realize that just because there is a repair procedure, one should not go ahead and cut a baby because it can be fixed later. It is far from easy and while the results are entirely satisfactory, it must be emphasized that this is not a natural foreskin and never will be. The sensitivity and some of the mechanical subtleties of the natural foreskin are lost forever.

John Strand

San Antonio, Texas


INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES,8599,1679981,00.html (another negative doctor response) (View reader response at the bottom) (look for links within**) (graphic pix) (BUFF method) (book review & availability Dr.Money) (doctor’s response unsupportive) (negative doctor response, denial of loss of sensitivity thru circumcision),000members (Jewishman commenting on video of his own circ)