Foreskin restoration

for circumcised men

This page provides a basic introduction and FAQ about foreskin restoration. Links are provided to other documents within CIRP, as well as external sites, where more comprehensive information may be found.

This page is intended as information only. It is not intended as medical advice. CIRP does not purport to make any specific health claims for foreskin restoration or reconstruction. Non-surgical restoration is not classified as a medical procedure. Restoration is a personal decision, and should only be undertaken following a full understanding of what is involved.

What is "foreskin restoration?"

The term "foreskin restoration" can refer to any method of recreating a facsimile of a foreskin (prepuce) to cover the head of the penis (the glans), for men who have lost their original foreskin due to circumcision. This can be done either by surgical means, or non-surgically by gradual stretching (tissue expansion). A more accurate term for surgical restoration is "foreskin reconstruction." Most of the resources on the Internet are focused on non-surgical restoration.

Despite the name "restoration" or "reconstruction," it is not possible to actually restore a lost foreskin. A natural foreskin contains specialized nerve endings, muscles and blood vessels that are necessary for normal sexual function and sensation. While to some degree these functions can be recreated, once the original tissue is cut off and thrown away, it can never be fully recovered.

Nevertheless, foreskin restoration can greatly enhance the sexual experience, and will improve daily personal comfort. Restored men have reported feelings of wholeness, empowerment, and "taking back their bodies from the circumcisers."

History of foreskin restoration

Foreskin restoration has been known since ancient times, and is mentioned in the Bible. For more information on the history of foreskin restoration, see Uncircumcision: A Historical Review of Preputial Restoration.

In the 20th century, doctors developed surgical procedures to reconstruct the foreskin, with varying degrees of success.

Non-surgical foreskin restoration was reinvented in the late 1970s by a movement of circumcised men, mostly from the United States, who were upset at having been mutilated against their will. The United States at that time had (and still has) a very high rate of neonatal circumcision. See Uncircumcising: Undoing the Effects of an Ancient Practice in a Modern World for more information.

What is tissue expansion?

Tissue expansion is an accepted technique, often used by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, to cause skin to expand and grow. The principle of tissue expansion is to maintain constant, safe, gentle tension on skin tissue, resulting in growth of new skin cells. This is often done in advance of restorative surgery by implanting balloons under the skin, which are inflated to stretch the skin and cause it to grow over a period of time. Because new cells are created, the increase in the quantity of skin is permanent. It does not shrink or snap back like a rubber band.

What is non-surgical foreskin restoration?

Non-surgical foreskin restoration is the re-covering of the glans penis by tissue expansion. Tape and weights, elastic straps, a traction device, or even manual stretching can be used to exert a gentle outward tension on the shaft of the penis to induce the skin to grow, to make the most of what was left after the circumcision.

Non-surgical restoration is inexpensive, relatively easy, and gives good results. It is not surgery, and it is not classified as a medical treatment.

"Tugging" is a common term for non-surgical foreskin restoration.

What is surgical foreskin reconstruction?

Surgical restoration (or reconstruction) is the grafting of skin onto the penis, either from the penis itself or from elsewhere on the body, to reconstruct something that looks and functions like a foreskin. The grafted skin may be of dissimilar texture to the original.

Surgical foreskin reconstruction procedures have been developed by several surgeons. Surgical reconstruction can be expensive and painful. Numerous complications have been reported. However, some men have reported satisfaction with it. Non-surgical restoration is generally considered safer and to give superior results as compared to a surgical procedure. For more information on surgical reconstruction, see Circumcision Reversal.

How does one accomplish non-surgical foreskin restoration?

Foreskin restoration expands the residual shaft skin of the circumcised penis distally to induce it to extend over the glans penis and form a fold similar to a natural foreskin. There are several manufacturers of devices to assist in this process, or one can manufacture one's own device.

There are a number of ingenious foreskin restoration devices available. The technology is constantly changing and improving. No attempt will be made to discuss the various devices on this page.

What are the disadvantages of non-surgical restoration?

Foreskin restoration tends to be slow and time-consuming. One must be patient and dedicated to achieve results. Motivation, commitment, and perseverance are required. Men who persevere are usually very satisfied with the results.

Tugging cannot restore the ridged band neurologic structure that is invariably excised by circumcision. It cannot restore the frenulum (the sensitive ligament that attaches the foreskin at the bottom).

Some men experience minor skin irritation where the restoration device is attached.

What are the advantages of non-surgical foreskin restoration?

Foreskin restoration returns the penis to a near-normal appearance. The circumcision scar gradually becomes hidden under the fold of the new foreskin. Cosmesis is dramatically improved. It is difficult to distinguish a restored foreskin from a natural foreskin by its appearance.

Foreskin restoration extends the shaft skin to recover the glans penis, to restore skin mobility, and to provide protection for the glans penis. Men who restore report greater comfort when wearing clothing, because the delicate mucosa of the glans penis is covered and protected from contact with clothing.

Men who restore report psychological and emotional benefits. One feels that one is back in control over one's body. Men who restore start to feel "whole" or "complete" and enjoy improved self-esteem as the restoration progresses. Feelings of anger, rage, and resentment may be reduced.

Foreskin restoration restores the "gliding action." Friction and chafing during sexual intercourse are reduced.

Sexual benefits have also been reported. Increases in sensitivity are usually reported. One survey found that women prefer a man with a foreskin by a ratio of 8.6 to one and reportedly are four times more likely to experience orgasm when the male partner has a foreskin.

How does foreskin restoration improve sensitivity?

Foreskin restoration is believed to work in several ways to improve sensitivity:

  1. After the glans penis is recovered, it stays moist. Moistness seems to improve sexual sensitivity. Some men report that the extra keratinization of the glans penis has peeled off as skin peels after a day at the beach.
  2. Foreskin restoration increases the skin mobility and gliding action. The increased mobility provides increased stimulation of the stretch receptors in the penile skin.
  3. Foreskin restoration may reduce premature ejaculation by protecting the corona of the glans penis from direct stimulation.

Is non-surgical restoration painful?

Restoration should not be painful. If it is, you are probably doing it wrong. Some men try to stretch too hard and/or quickly, or tape improperly, which results in pain. If it hurts, you should stop for a few days and then try again with a bit less enthusiasm.

Can I have sex while restoring?

Yes. Just remove the device beforehand, and reattach it when you are done. Specialized, safe solvents are available to soften tape and remove tape residue from the penis.

Is foreskin restoration popular?

Foreskin restoration is a private and personal matter. No statistics are collected on the number of men who restore. Some men keep silent about their foreskin restoration. We can say, however, that a cottage industry has grown up to supply restoration devices, the available devices are increasing in number, variety, and quality, and this apparently indicates an ever-increasing market. It seems safe to say that tens of thousands of men either have restored in the past or presently are restoring, and the total number may be even larger. Since more and more men are learning of the advantages of foreskin restoration, the number of men undertaking foreskin restoration seems to be increasing.

How long does foreskin restoration take?

No definite time can be stated. The time to restore varies widely. The time depends on the amount of skin available at the start, the amount of skin desired, the techniques employed, the device used, the diligence of the individual, and other factors.

The regrowth of a foreskin by tissue expansion is done very gradually and almost imperceptibly.

Circumcised men may underestimate the full extent of tissue loss to circumcision so they may not appreciate the amount of skin necessary to re-create a foreskin. A foreskin is a double layer, so for each inch of visible foreskin, two inches of new skin tissue are needed. Circumcision removes more than 50 percent of the skin and mucosa from the penis, so restoration requires that the amount of skin be at least doubled and perhaps tripled. Some time is required to grow this additional skin. One should count on at least one year and possibly much longer.

Techniques are improving and better devices are becoming available so the time to restore seems to be decreasing.

Should I consult a medical doctor before starting foreskin restoration?

It seems prudent to suggest that one should consult with a physician before undertaking any such procedure. Consulting a physician about foreskin restoration is likely to be helpful, for instance, if your physician knows about and understands tissue expansion. However, most physicians receive no training about foreskin restoration, and many may never have heard of it. There is almost nothing published in the medical literature on the subject. It is likely that many physicians will be unable to help you, may discourage you, and may in fact give bad advice. Your mileage may vary.

Men with preexisting skin conditions, skin allergies, diabetes, open sores, etc. should definitely consult with a physician beforehand.

What kinds of devices are available?

A wide variety of devices are available to apply tension to the skin of the penis. Devices that use weights or elastic straps (similar to a suspender strap) are most popular.

CIRP does not endorse or recommend any particular product or company. Readers may search the Web for "foreskin restoration products" and find a number of offerings that may help them. While most of these products may be safe and effective, readers should use common sense in evaluating any health claims made by these manufacturers.

How does one keep the new foreskin in place?

When enough skin has been created by tissue expansion, the skin will fall into place over the glans penis naturally. The new foreskin lacks a frenulum to hold it in place, so the only way to keep the foreskin in place is to continue the process long enough. Before enough skin is produced, a tape retainer ring may help to keep the developing foreskin in place.

Will I experience an increase in penis length with stretching?

It is possible. Some men do report growth in overall penis size as a side effect of the constant tension. However, this effect has not been scientifically studied, and it should not be considered a good reason for attempting restoration.

Is foreskin restoration a "gay thing?"

Foreskin restoration is for anyone who does not like being circumcised. It does not matter if the person is homosexual or heterosexual.

I'm intact, but my foreskin is too short. Can intact males use foreskin stretching techniques?

Yes, an intact male who is not satisfied with the length of his foreskin may use the same traction techniques to make his foreskin longer. Men who have trouble keeping their foreskin forward may benefit from foreskin restoration as the foreskin is retrained to stay in place.

Where can I obtain more information?

More information may be obtained by visiting the website of the National Organization of Restoring Men.

Other sources of information are:

The classic book, The Joy of Uncircumcising!, now is available as an electronic book. Go to Joy to purchase your own copy.

Searching the web with the search terms "foreskin" or "foreskin restoration" will produce a number of websites dedicated to foreskin restoration.


(File revised 17 August 2013)

http://www.cirp.org/pages/restore.html