““Foreskin restoration cannot truly replicate what was stolen, but it can and does provide a vast improvement on the circumcised state. Re-covering my glans improved my sexual function, my body image, and my sense of well-being. There was also a sense of alchemy, of personal victory over something that had seemed hopeless.”
Non-surgical Foreskin Restoration
A significant number of circumcised men – in the U.S. and around the world – feel loss, resentment, betrayal, and anger over the violation of their bodies at birth. It takes only a minimal understanding of normal anatomy and function of the normal penis, and of the tawdry social history of circumcision in English language medicine, to understand these feelings of regret and the motivation these men have to restore.
Doctors Opposing Circumcision heartily recommends foreskin restoration for those who feel drawn to restore. We estimate that more than 100,000 North American men have completed or are currently engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration. We are available to advise those of our medical colleagues who encounter patients interested in non-surgical foreskin restoration. We will also gladly counsel men who have questions about restoration, or refer them to a knowledgeable medical professional in their region. Restoration, a safe and proven technique, does not require medical monitoring; however, a restorer may seek medical reassurance.
D.O.C. is not alone in recommending against surgical foreskin restoration, which may, we believe, lead to further scar tissue and nerve damage. The foreskin is uniquely flexible and sensitive, and grafting of any other tissue will not have the same appearance, sensation, or functionality as expanded shaft skin. We believe that non-surgical restoration – which relies on gentle, controlled tension to stimulate reproduction of skin cells, similar to the method used with breast reconstruction in post-mastectomy patients – provides a better, more affordable, and safer alternative.
Penile skin expansion methods are over 2,000 years old. The original Olympics of ancient Greece were played in the nude, in a culture that found nudity appropriate but considered exposure of the glans sexually provocative. Greeks athletes used the kynodesme, a method of tying the foreskin closed for reasons of modesty.[5,6] Hellenic Jews who wished to compete in the Olympics invented a related method to lengthen their remnant foreskins and fully cover their glans, using a weighted device called the ‘pondus Judaeus.’
Today’s restorers use modern materials and less cumbersome devices, but the process is much the same. (See “Restoration resources” below for information on devices and support groups.) Restoration requires some hours each day of gentle tension – typically applied by taping methods or tension devices – followed by some hours to allow the skin to rest. It is thought that the cell growth occurs during the relaxation phase, responding to the prior tension. Some restorers ‘tug’ during the day and ‘rest’ at night; others restore at night and rest by day.
Restoration is a process that takes, on average, several years, although most men see results after a few months. The result depends on how tightly a man’s penile skin was cut, how much foreskin overhang is desired, and with how much persistence and discipline the methods are applied, as well as factors like the restorer’s overall health and genetics. Besides the need for patience, some restorers report that the most challenging part of the process is facing the daily reminder they were diminished as children.
While nonsurgical foreskin restoration cannot re-create the original nerves and musculature of the amputated tissue, it does restore the coverage and mobility of the skin of the natural penis, and provides many benefits that restorers report are deeply satisfying:
- Restoration is easy, simple, cheap, and hardly noticeable when done correctly.
- Once restoration is complete, the restored foreskin covers and protects the glans and its urethral opening, in the flaccid state.
- Some restored men report they feel less vulnerable once their glans is covered.
- Restoration recreates the moist environment in which nature meant the glans to reside.
- Restoration de-keratinizes the glans, converting insensitive dry skin to the original, sensitive, moist tissue.
- Restoration reduces tension on the penile skin, which may allow for greater length of the penis in both the flaccid and erect state.
- Even partial restoration (a few months) allows the skin to be more relaxed, so that it does not abrade or tear on erection.
- Nocturnal erections may become more comfortable.
- The increased mobility of the penile shaft skin allows the corona to be stimulated by subtle, sensual movements that intact, natural men know to be pleasurable.
- Restoration helps to retain pre-ejaculatory fluid, nature’s natural lubricant.
- Restoration restores the natural gliding mechanism of intercourse.
- Restoration allows the shaft skin to relax so that pubic hair remains on the pubis, where it belongs.
- Some restorers feel it looks healthier and more normal to be intact.
- Restoration shows resourcefulness, an accomplishment of which the restorer can be proud.
- Restoration is psychologically empowering to the man who feels something was taken from him (which, of course, it was), allowing him to reclaim his natural inheritance.
It is worth noting that the advantages of foreskin restoration, listed above, are easily converted into reasons to avoid circumcision in the first place.
1. Surgery: What about surgical foreskin restoration? National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) website; c1997-2006. n.d. Available from: www.norm.org/surgery.html
2. Schultheiss D, Truss MC, Stief CG, Jonas U. Uncircumcision: a historical review of preputial restoration. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998;101(7):1990-8.
3. Tissue expansion. Wikipedia website. Last modified 2016 Jan 23. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tissue_expansion#Skin_expansion
4. Tissue expanders. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. n.d. Available from: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/breast_center/treatments_services/reconstructive_breast_surgery/tissue_expanders.html
5. Kynodesme. Wikipedia website. Last modified 2015 Dec 1. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kynodesme
6. Hodges FM.Hodges FM. The ideal prepuce in ancient Greece and Rome: male genital aesthetics and their relation to lipodermos, circumcision, foreskin restoration, and the kynodesme. Bull Hist Med. 2001;75(3):375-405.
7. A successful restoration regimen. National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) website; c1997-2006. n.d. Available from: www.norm.org/regimen.html
8. Why should I restore? National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) website; c1997-2006. n.d. Available from: www.norm.org/whyrestore.html
Foreskin restoration resources
NOTE: D.O.C. provides these resources for further information about foreskin restoration, however, we do not endorse any particular group or method.
A good survey of the process, with many footnotes.
The National Organization of Restoring Men is the original foreskin restoration organization, advising men for over 25 years.
A thorough treatment of the topic from this comprehensive, illustrated website.
The Circumcision Information Resource Pages is a reliable source of scholarly information on various topics related to circumcision, including foreskin restoration.
Formerly NORM-UK, 15 Square is focused on non-surgical solutions for phimosis and avoiding unwanted circumcision, including restoration advice.
Includes a restorers’ discussion group willing to help beginners.
Books and videos on the subject, with links.
Foregen is an organization devoted to investigating tissue regeneration for foreskin replacement.
Bigelow J. The joy of uncircumcising! Kearney (NE): Morris Publishing; 1998.
Ritter TJ, Denniston GC. Doctors re-examine circumcision. Seattle (WA): Third Millennium Publishing Co.; 2002.
Collier R. Whole again: the practice of foreskin restoration. CMAJ. 2011;183(18):2092-3.
The joy of uncircumcising. BMJ. 1994;309(6955):679.
Swanson J. Uncut: a look at the wacky, wrinkly world of foreskin restoration. The Village Voice website. 2015 Oct 6.
Narvaez D, Geisheker JV. Practical tips for men distressed by their circumcision. Psychology Today website. 2015 Jun 21. An essay on how men aggrieved by their circumcision might re-focus their discontent.
Schultheiss D. Uncircumcision: a historical review of preputial restoration. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998;101:1990-8.
Published February 2016