Foreskin Restoration Guide
The purpose of this page is to introduce the basics of foreskin restoration how it's actually done. Some of the information is duplicated elsewhere on the site, but if you're interested in learning "how-to," then this is the place for you.
T-TAPE AND STRAP DIRECTIONS?
One of the most popular sections of this web site is the instructions for making your own restoration device, the "t-tape and strap."
If you are new to restoration, please read this page first.
Otherwise, you may proceed directly to the table of contents for the t-tape and strap information that's available here.
First and Foremost
I cannot emphasize any more strongly that you should never begin a program of non-surgical foreskin restoration without knowing some basic information we've put together on our cautions and warnings page. Most healthy, adult men can proceed without worry, but in some cases, relatively rare health conditions can and should preclude your participation without the express permission and oversight of a competent health care professional (i.e., your doctor).
In fact, it is my strong recommendation that you consult your doctor about restoration whether you feel there is a health condition present or not. This serves two purposes:
Of course, not all doctors know about restoration, and some may not even be especially supportive of you. Find another doctor, or ask your current doctor for a referral to someone better informed.
How It Works
Non-surgical foreskin restoration works on a basic principle, proven in the medical community, known as skin expansion. Essentially, a constant tension is applied to the site where skin expansion is desired, which, when consistently applied, causes the skin to actually "grow" new skin cells, expanding the available skin tissue at the site. Because new skin cells are actually developed, the technique has permanent results.
When this is undertaken on the penile shaft skin, and for a long enough period of time, the result can be the creation of a significant amount of new tissue enough to simulate the appearance and some of the function of a natural, intact foreskin on males that have been previously circumcised.
While often referred to as stretching, this is actually false. "Stretching" implies that the skin will "snap back" at some point, and with the development of new skin cells in the tissue, this will not occur with foreskin restoration efforts. (This is the subject of some amount of debate, actually. Read my opinion about it in the commentary section of the site.)
The concept of skin expansion has only been fully explored by the medical community for about two decades. In that time, it's been widely used in the separation of conjoined (i.e., Siamese) twins, in breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and other cases where relocation-style skin grafts (skin taken from one area of the body and reattached in another area) are not an option. The success of skin expansion is quite well documented in medical journals at this point, and is not merely some sort of "quack" medicine.
How It's Done
There are many different ways to go about foreskin restoration. Since an excellent and complete resource already exists in the form of the book The Joy of Uncircumcising, I will not attempt to describe every known method here. (To find out more about the book, visit the resource list here.) I highly recommend that you obtain a copy of this book. It contains important background on many issues, and can provide many alternatives, along with encouragement and support with the process.
In the sections that follow, I don't hesitate to offer some personal opinions about some of the techniques or devices where I think it's appropriate. Please understand that these represent my personal experience. Each approach has its supporters and successful users, and you should choose an approach based on your own situation, needs, financial resources, and the availability of materials.
The Joy book describes three basic stages of restoration efforts, referred to in order as tape strap, tape ring, and restoration device. With the system I describe in great detail on this web site the so-called t-tape and strap method these terms are really blown out of the water, since the t-tape and strap system (technically a device in the parlance of the Joy book) can, in fact, be used at any stage. And since it doesn't fit into one of the three neat categories, I put it in its own section.
Finally, I discuss some other options and techniques.
Stage 1, Tape Straps
Stage 1 assumes little or no existing coverage of the glans. The object of any activities at this level is to gain enough new skin to continue on to something more advanced. There's a couple of similar techniques:
- Single tape across. This is merely a single strap of medical tape from side-to-side up and over the tip (glans) of the penis. Taping the glans itself should be avoided, as it's far too sensitive, so generally, the tape section that contacts the glans has its sticky part covered (i.e., two pieces of tape, sticky sides together, so no adhesive is exposed). A hole punch is used to create a hole in the tip to facilitate urination. Basically, start with a piece of tape, pull the skin as far forward as possible, and stick the other end in place. It can take some practice to get the technique down.
- Tape in an "x" configuration. This is just like a single tape strap, but uses two pieces of tape, one running side-to-side, the other front to back, to provide more even tension.
The problem with tape straps is that they do not accommodate erections, which is only a limited problem during the day (unless you're prone to spontaneous erections), but pretty much rules-out night wear (since most men do have spontaneous nocturnal erections). An erection while wearing a tape strap can be very uncomfortable.
Starting points like this are covered in illustrated detail in the Joy book, should you wish to start with such a technique.
Stage 2, Tape Ring
Stage 2 assumes you had a loose circumcision to begin with and have enough skin to faciliate using these methods, or that you've used a Stage 1 technique long enough to achieve the skin you need.
In my mind, these aren't really a step above Stage 1 enough to warrant their own category. In practice, both tape straps and tape rings are pretty elementary and similar approaches, and the amount of skin needed for Stage 2 just isn't that much more than Stage 1. In any case, it's separated here for consistency with the Joy book.
- Tape ring. For this, you'll need to have started with enough skin, or obtained some through the use of the tape across method. Essentially, pull the shaft skin as far forward as possible over the glans, and secure it circumferentially (around) with tape. The tape itself only contacts the shaft skin, but since you will have "gathered" the skin forward and narrowed its circumference, it stays forward of the glans, and the tension needed for restoration is provided simply by the penis itself, neatly tucked inside your own skin.
- Weighted tape ring. This is the system I used for awhile myself, with reasonable results, until the weight came loose and caused me a great deal of embarrassment at work, and therefore I don't recommend it. The other problem is that weights don't work while you're sitting. But essentially, you start with some sort of crown shaped device to which a weight can be attached, and which will fit inside the "foreskin" when you apply the tape ring. The Joy book suggests modifying the nipple of a baby bottle, which is what I did quite successfully. Details are in the book. The device is placed against the glans, the skin is pulled forward, tape is applied, a weight is attached, and there you have it.
The problem with the tape rings is the same as with the tape straps. For a start, they can't accommodate an erection without significant discomfort. And in the case of a weighted approach, the tape or the weight can come loose, and allow the whole thing to come falling down your pantleg. Not a pretty picture.
Stage 3, Devices
Until the t-tape and strap method became more available to restorers, devices (which characterize Stage 3 methods) were for people that already have some amount of coverage, either naturally (as many circumcised men do) or that has been achieved through tape straps or rings.
There are a large number of devices:
- Foam cones. In this method, a cone shaped device, normally made of hard foam rubber coated with rubber material, is placed on the tip of the penis. The penis shaft skin is drawn as far forward over the cone as possible, and taped in place. The center of the cone is generally hollow to allow for urination. Some men have used plastic pipe or conduit in a similar manner. Note that foam cones are sometimes used with the t-tape and strap to "stuff" the inside of the foreskin.
- Weights. In any of several variations, weights are attached via tape to the shaft skin. By dangling freely, the weight provides the tension. There are many different types of weights to use, and different ways to attach them, or you can use them in combination with the foam cone. The biggest problem with weights is that they don't work while you're seated, and they have a tendency to come loose and fall down your pantleg usually in public so you can become completely embarrassed by the experience.
- Others. There are other devices and techniques, but in general, they are all some form of penis extension (used like the foam cone), raw weight, or a combination of the two. For example, the P.U.D. (penis uncircumcising device) is a heavy metal tube that combines the extension and weight concept into a single device. Again, because tape can loosen and weights can fall, I just don't personally care much for this approach. Some men, however, swear by it.
The T-Tape and Strap Method
Finally, we arrive at my personal favorite method for foreskin restoration, the t-tape and strap, a method not discussed in the Joy book (yet).
Like all the other methods, it uses tape to grab hold of the penis shaft skin. But the tape it uses is a rather unique configuration that must be constructed for each application. The t-tape is so-named, because after it's affixed to the shaft skin, it leaves a "tail" circumferentially around the shaft that in cross-section is shaped like the letter T.
The tail is grabbed hold of by the other component of the system, the strap, specifically, an elastic strap. Since the strap is elastic, you can adjust how much tension is applied by how far you pull the strap. One end is attached to the t-tape, and the other to your pants, underwear, etc. The strap itself has many variations; affix it somehow to your leg, go over the shoulder, around your waist whatever works best for you and is most comfortable. We describe all of them in great detail, along with instructions for the t-tape, in our t-tape and strap section, including step-by-step illustrated instructions.
So why do I like this method so much? I've answered in more detail elsewhere on the site, but here are the highlights:
- There are no weights to embarrassingly drop. Even if things "come apart" while you're wearing the t-tape and strap, nothing is going to fall down and cause embarrassment unless you're wearing shorts, and even then, you probably have ample time to prevent any embarrassing incidents unlike weights, which can fall to the floor down your pantleg unexpectedly.
- It is suitable for entry-level and on-going use. No matter what stage of restoration you're in at the moment, just starting or have been doing it for some time, the t-tape and strap method can work for you. It attaches the same way, it's used the same way, and it doesn't matter how much skin you have at any stage.
Humans are by nature rather inventive sorts. Where there's a will, there's a way. As a result, there are a number of other techniques and devices, and I can't possibly cover them all here. But there are a few, in particular, I'd like to mention:
- Vacuum devices. Some devices (e.g., pumps) sold for "penis enlargement" have special attachments advertised as being foreskin restoration aids. I've personally heard from one person who claims to have successfully used such a device, and for all I know it works. But somehow I'm skeptical, and I've heard numerous credible reports from the health care industry that vacuum devices can cause permanent erection difficulties. I would proceed with great caution before using one of these devices.
- O-rings. This simple approach uses a small rubber o-ring of some kind, typically available in the plumbing department of your local hardware store. The shaft skin is pulled forward, and an o-ring of appropriate size is rolled down over the gathered skin that you've pulled forward. If it's the correct size, it'll hold the skin in place, and the tension provided by the penis itself inside is what supposed makes this work. The problem with this approach is that tension adequate to cause skin expansion is highly unlikely to be available without forcing the o-ring to pop off. Additionally, the o-ring can slip off relatively easily anyway, and if you wear one that's tight enough to hold everything in place, you may be cutting-off circulation, which is not a good thing. Most men I've talked to use an o-ring only for maintenance, as a device to hold the skin forward when they're not using a "real" restoration method. But it won't produce any significant gains.
- Surgery. Yes, surgical foreskin restoration exists, but I can't imagine a worse idea. You've already had your penis meet a knife once in your life, why on Earth anyone would want to do it again and risk an even worse outcome is a mystery to me. I won't go over the details again here, as I did a pretty good job in our FAQ section. You can make your own decisions, but in my opinion, surgical restoration is an idea designed for today's "instant gratification" society. A little patience can get you a better result for far, far less money, and almost zero risk compared to surgery!
At some point, you may well reach a time when you consider your restoration efforts done. If you've restored a lot of skin (i.e., you have full coverage of the glans), then you might be interested in some finishing touches to complete the look and function of your new foreskin.
Remember, nothing can put back what your doctor took away when you were circumcised. What finishing touches can do is to help tailor your result to look more natual.
In general, any surgical touch-up procedure is designed to make the new foreskin have a natural taper at the tip, and thus help it stay forward of the glans more naturally. The down side is that removing any skin tissue to help this process means that when you have an erection, there may be a slight hourglass shape to your penis, since part of the shaft skin is removed to form that taper when you're flaccid.
A competent plastic surgeon should be your source of advice here. While I wouldn't let such a surgeon near my penis for surgical restoration (since skin grafting is involved), a minor procedure to help finish the non-surgical efforts is not a bad idea. Just know what you're getting into ahead of time, know and understand the risks, and what the outcome might be like. And work hard to get a referral from your doctor or a local surgeon to a plastic surgeon that has actually performed a restoration touch-up procedure before, otherwise you may be gambling with the foreskin you've worked so hard to restore.
Who Should Consider It
So who, exactly, should consider foreskin restoration? The easy answer is any adult male who has been circumcised. But the answers are actually a little deeper than that.
First off, give some thought to how happy you are (or are not) with the appearance and function of your penis. If you are one of the many millions of men who are perfectly pleased with your circumcised penis as it is, then by all means enjoy ownership of that penis, and use it carefully and in good health!
If, however, you've been reading this material and have begun to identify with the many men who have undertaken restoration, then you're a candidate. Do you have a sense of victimization? Do you dislike the appearance of a circumcised penis? Do you feel your penis isn't as sensitive as it should be? Does it take you a long time to achieve orgasm? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you may wish to consider foreskin restoration.
Once you've decided that foreskin restoration might be for you, next you need to spend some time examining whether or not you have the patience to undertake a project that, very likely, will require daily attention for a year or more. Some men simply cannot stay motivated long enough to do it. Others can. But don't start the process unless you intend to keep with it and are confident that you can, or you could end-up being very disappointed with yourself (and still have that circumcised penis you don't feel quite right about).
Do you need a little motivation? Check any one of the photo diaries referenced in my resources section for personal accounts of some men's efforts on restoration.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Derrick Townsend, All Rights Reserved