WHOLE LIFE TIMES, Number 172, Malibu, August 1996.

     ISSUE #172, AUGUST 1996. All rights reserved.
     Used with permission.


Before and After

by Leigh Taylor Ellis


     In the second paragraph, the correct circumcision rates
for male infants in 1993 are 59% for the U.S. and 35% for
the Western States.
     In the resources section the author's name is Gary M.
Griffin, MBA, deceased, for the book Decircumcision.

      Many people are aware of the growing movement of men
and women who oppose routine circumcision of children.  Most
people, however, are not aware of a parallel movement among
men who are choosing to restore their foreskins.  These men
are dissatisfied with having been circumcised and are doing
something about it.  While it is never possible to
completely reconstruct what was lost during circumcision,
many men are achieving positive results.

Mainstream practice

       According to the National Center for Health
Statistics of Hyattville, Md., the circumcision rates for
male infants in 1993 was 35% for the U.S. and 39% for the
Western states.  This is down considerably from a peak in
1980 when 85% of male infants in the U.S. underwent the

       Foreskin restoration is not a new phenomenon.  In
Greece, during the Hellenic period (320-30 B.C.E.), while
public nudity was common, especially male nudity, the
appearance of the penile glans was not acceptable.  During
athletic events, men with shorter foreskins and some Jewish
men who were circumcised secured their foreskins forward
with string or clasps.

       One of the earliest records of surgical foreskin
restoration was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus in Rome,
circa 14-37 C. E. Celsus described two methods, one for men
with short or "insufficient" foreskins and another method
for men who had been circumcised.

Restoration movement

       It is unknown how many men have attempted some sort
of restoration on their own, but the current movement seems
to have gotten its start in the late '70s, as the movement
to stop childhood circumcision gained strength.

       Men sought help from doctors to obtain surgical
restoration of their foreskins.  Most were met with
ridicule, rejection or open hostility.  It seems the most
common response from a physician to a man seeking
restoration was referral to a psychiatrist.  Still, some men
persevered and eventually medical assistance was obtained.

       As a few successful surgical restorations were
performed, the information spread, mostly through word of
mouth.  As the movement to stop childhood circumcision grew,
and organizations were formed to provide information about
circumcision, these organizations received many calls from
men trying to find out if "something could be done" about
their own circumcisions.  All shared information was passed
along.  By 1981, a short list of doctors who could perform
foreskin reconstructions was complied and circulated.

       At about the same time, men on their own began to
experiment with non-surgical skin-stretching techniques and
an informal networks began to form.

       In 1989, the National Organization of Restoring Men
(NORM) was established by two men who were undergoing the
process.  NORM had its first meeting February 1990 and an
currently has 21 chapters in the U.S. and an in five other
countries.  The southern California chapter has been active
since 1994 and an conducts a monthly meeting at the
Self-Help and an Recovery Exchange (SHARE!) in W. Los

       Jim Bigelow, Ph.D., who has completed the restoration
process, published The Joy of Uncircumcising in 1992.  In
it, he discusses surgical and an non-surgical techniques and
an provides information and an an extensive list of related

       In addition to networking organizations and books on
the subject, there are now manufacturers designing
and producing devices for the express purpose of helping men
to restore their foreskins.

Common questions.

       The following are some of the most common questions
regarding restoration.

       What is foreskin restoration and how is it done?

       Since there are no foreskin transplants (at least not
currently), foreskin restoration is the creation of a new
"faux" foreskin, either surgically or non-surgically.  Both
methods can be effective, and each has advantages and

       Surgical restoration involves grafting skin onto the
penis to form a foreskin.  The main advantage seems to be
time.  The procedure can take from six weeks to six months.
The disadvantages are cost, finding a doctor who is both
willing and skilled in the procedure, and the normal risks
associated with any kind of surgery.

       Non-surgical restoration involves the stretching of
penile shaft skin by various means of traction to obtain
enough skin to cover the glans.  The advantages are control,
privacy and an cost.  The individual has complete control
over his own process.  No one else has to know about the
restoration.  Most of the methods and an devices used
involve only moderate cost.

       The disadvantages of non-surgical restoration are
time and an convenience.  A non-surgical restoration can
take from 18 months to five years or longer, depending on
the method used, the consistency of use, from what point the
man begins the process and an what he considers the
finishing point.

       While most of the devices can be worn virtually
undetected under normal clothing, there can be some
inconveniences such as dealing with urinals in public
restrooms.  The good news is that new devices are being
developed that address both the time and an convenience

       Who is doing this?

       Men who are seeking to reverse their circumcisions
are fathers, brothers, and sons.  They are in their 20s, 40s
and an 80s.  They are from every economic strata, of varying
ethnicities and an religious backgrounds.  They are single
and an partnered; married, divorced and an widowed;
straight, gay and an bisexual.

      Why are men choosing to do this?

      There are many reasons.  Some men seek the increased
sensitivity that can come with having the glans covered. The
glans of the penis corresponds to the clitoris in women.
Both are mucous membranes with concentrated nerve endings
and designed to be covered by a prepuce, foreskin.  Some
men want their penis to look "whole" or "natural;" they
dislike the look of the circumcision scar and the uncovered
glans.  Other men are angry and feel victimized by having
been circumcised without their consent, and
restoration provides them with a feeling of empowerment.
There are also men who have ongoing physical problems, such
as too-tight or painful erections caused by the excessive
removal of skin from circumcision.

     Is restoration really possible and are there any

     Four years ago when my partner, Steven, showed me a
copy of The Joy of Uncircumcising, I'd never heard of
foreskin restoration or even considered the possibility.

       Although he had no physical problem from his
circumcision and neither one of us had any complaints about
our sex life, I knew he was not pleased with having been
circumcised and an did not like the physical look of it.  As
I realized that restoration was possible, I felt it could be
a very empowering process.

       I told Steven that regardless of his choice, I would
support him completely.  He thanked me and said he had
started the restoration process a couple of weeks earlier.
We shared his progress regularly, talking and comparing
opinions about the changes that were taking place.   He
initially had begun restoring for cosmetic reasons, wanting
only his glans covered.  After a few months, his glans
became smoother, pinker in color, very similar to my own
labia.  Several months later we were both surprised that or
lovemaking was changing.  Intercourse was slower, more
gentle and with less friction.

       Four years later, he is nearly done with the
restoration.  He's achieved what he wanted: the look of a
natural penis.  Together we've gained things neither of us
thought possible.  Since the restoration, there is never
a lack of lubrication during intercourse, and the loose
skin creates wonderful sensations we hadn't experienced

       I have spoken with many men regarding their own
restoration and they report similar results - as do their
partners.  The reasons for undertaking his process are the
results achieved are as individual as the men involved.
-Leigh Taylor Ellis is a minister, writer, teacher and an
healer and activist for children's and an human rights.

N.O.R.M.-Men Dealing with Circumcision Issues. 2-3:30pm.
This is an ongoing support group, meeting 3rd Sundays of the
month at: Share! The Self-Help and an Recovery Exchange,
5521 Grosvenor Blvd., Los Angeles (310)305-8878.



NORM The National Organization of Restoring Men
3205 Northwood Dr. #209
Concord, CA  94250-4506

NORM S. Calif.
797 National Blvd. #9
Los Angeles, CA 92234-2750


The Joy of Uncircumcising! (Second Ed.)
by Jim Bigelow, Ph. D.
1995, Hourglass

by Cary M. Griffin, MBA
(1991, Added Dimensions)

P. O. BOX 1187
MALIBU, CA  90265
PH.  310-317-4200
FAX. 310-317-4206

(File revised 27 December 2003)