Foreskin Restoration Q&A
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Over the years that I've operated this web site, I've received literally hundreds of e-mail messages from around the globe from men considering or who are currently undertaking non-surgical foreskin restoration. While I have stated many times that I am not a doctor, nor do I consider myself a particular "expert" on restoration, I have attempted to answer as many of the more common questions as possible, and this Q&A reflects that effort.
I consider this Q&A a work-in-progress, and as such, you should check it occasionally for new additions, corrections, etc. So with that, and in no particular order, here it is:
Q. What exactly is non-surgical foreskin restoration?
A. Non-surgical foreskin restoration refers to any number of techniques for restoring a prepuce or "foreskin" on a circumcised male without involving the use of plastic surgery to get the job done. All the various techniques use the application of tension to the penile shaft skin (i.e., pulling the skin) and leaving the tension applied for extended periods. Most employ medical tape (to hold the skin) and weights (or equivalents) to provide the tension.
Q. Is this permanent? Won't the stretching eventually return to normal?
A. Yes, it is permanent, and no, it will not return to normal. Also, this is not stretching! Non-surgical foreskin restoration is often referred to as "stretching," but it's a complete misnomer. The tension that results from the process causes the body to generate completely new skin cells, essentially growing new skin at the site of the tension. A more appropriate term is "skin expansion."
Q. Is "skin expansion" medically proven, or is all this a modern version of snake oil?
A. Yes, the principle is medically proven; plastic surgeons use it to grow skin for skin grafts in some cases (like separating conjoined [i.e., Siamese] twins). In their method, they implant a balloon under the skin and over time (days, weeks) inflate it. The principle is the same, only the method varies. In any event, the elasticity of your skin will provide a difference almost immediately after starting, as a result of true stretching alone, and that much will "snap back" after you stop. But don't confuse this with the permanent results that take time and will not go away when you stop!
Q. Does it hurt?
A. No, not if you do it correctly. Pain comes from putting on tape too tight, using too much tension, and so on. If it hurts, then you've not exercised due care in applying or using the method you've chosen. You may well feel tension on the skin, and that's normal. Pain is not normal! If it hurts, stop!
Q. What's all this talk about tape?
A. The various methods (and there are many) for non-surgical foreskin restoration almost all employ the use of tape (usually medical or first aid tape) to pull what skin you have now up over the glans (head) of your penis as far as possible. You can use straps side to side over the glans; o-tapes or tape rings that go around the circumference of the penis after pulling the skin forward; t-tapes that use an elastic leg or other strap to provide tension (instructions available here); a foam cone over the glans then pull the skin up onto it and tape it in place; metal weights of some sort (again, pull the skin up and tape in place onto the weight); and so on. Most people start with the tape straps (across the glans in an X), graduate to the tape rings, then use some other system. Personally, I think the t-tape and leg strap approach from beginning to end is best. The Joy book (described in the resource list) has more details.
Q. How long does it take?
A. It varies. Some people get where they want after a year of dedicated taping. Some get there in a couple of years. Some more. It depends on several things: how much skin you have to start with; how much you want to add; how dedicated you are to the process (i.e., how often do you tape up and how long do you keep it that way); and so forth. The more you stay taped, the sooner it will happen. It is not a fast process. It requires great dedication to the effort, and a very great deal of patience. If you want instant gratification, non-surgical foreskin restoration is not for you.
I have heard from two different sources that the t-tape and strap method (discussed elsewhere on our site) is capable of adding 1/16th square inches of new skin daily. This assumes 24 hour a day use, with "ideal" tension. And this is square inches, i.e., surface area, not overall length of foreskin. If you measure the circumference of your penis and do the math, you can probably get a round figure for how long you can expect it to take under ideal circumstances.
Q. Can't you do anything to speed it up?
A. Not really. Using an effective restoration method is the best way to ensure results, and the one described on this site (refer to our restoration guide) is one of the most popular and fastest working. Otherwise, patience is key here, and there's nothing you can do to speed-up nature's work.
Q. Am I too young to restore?
A. First off, if you're reading this and you are under 18 years old, then your parent or guardian is sitting next to you, right? If not, go away I don't want you here!
I strongly recommend that non-adult males (those younger than 18) worry about their sexual function and penile appearance later in life when they've had more experience with which to assess their relative pleasure or displeasure with things as they are. When I was under 18, I never liked being told I was "too young" to do something, but in this case, I'm telling you you're too young. To begin with, your body has not stopped developing, and anything that would or could interfere with nature's own processes is not something you should entertain now. Frankly, I wouldn't do anything at all with regard to restoration until you're at least 21, as I don't believe anyone younger will have enough experience to judge with. If you feel strongly that you want to do this, at least discuss it with your doctor. And if you're too embarrassed to talk to your doctor about it, then you're probably not emotionally ready to proceed with it, SO DON'T!
Now go away! If you're under 18, you are not welcome here.
Q. Am I too old to restore?
A. No. Some men with comparative data have indicated that restoration takes longer in older men, and this may make some sense considering that the properties of skin change with age. However, a great many men have successfully begun and completed to their satisfaction the restoration process. Age should not discourage you from proceeding. As always, if you're concerned, seek the assistance of a competent health care professional.
Q. How will my penis look when I'm done? Does it look like an intact penis?
A. For all practical purposes, nobody will be able to distinguish a penis with a restored foreskin from a penis with an intact foreskin. The structural differences (you cannot restore a frenulum, which is described in the anatomy section) are not apparent to anyone, unless someone knows what an intact foreskin looks like and how it functions, and they perform a manual, physical examination of your penis. Externally, there is simply not a way to tell. I've heard several reports of even doctors not being able to tell from looking.
Q. Do I have to see a doctor about this like you suggest?
A. Yes! Some people have medical conditions that make non-surgical foreskin restoration by conventional means dangerous. (Read more about it on our cautions and warnings page.) Persons who are prone to bleeding or who have any problems related blood circulation; persons with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or peyronies; persons who are "keloid formers"; those whose immune systems are diminished or are otherwise prone to chronic infections of any type; and those who have allergic reactions to adhesive chemicals in tape products should not begin restoration without a doctor's specific approval, recommendation, and supervision!
If you are in good health, have no known circulatory or other health problems, are not prone to contracting infections, and have no known allergies, you can probably proceed safely. But you are still strongly encouraged to visit your doctor.
Not all general practice (or other) physicians are familiar with non-surgical restoration techniques; many are not even aware that it's possible. If your regular physician is unable to assist you, see your urologist, or ask for a referral to one or another appropriate specialist. Some doctors are, in fact, quite well informed about restoration, and have access to information and resources to help you. If you are in doubt for any reason, search for and locate an informed and understanding physician who can help ensure your safety and productivity with your restoration program.
Q. Why the heck would somebody want to do this? Seems like a lot of trouble, and I've never had any problem with being circumcised.
A. If you don't have a problem with being circumcised, then by all means enjoy your penis as-is. Many men do, and should.
Some men, however, feel a sense of victimization over the fact that their penis was mutilated by a doctor without their consent after birth. Many men simply like the appearance of an "uncut" penis better. The reasons truly vary, but virtually everyone who has restored even some of their foreskin report enhanced sexual sensitivity and function. Think about it the glans (head) of a cut penis rubs against clothing, sheets, or whatever it's in contact with all the time. This constant rubbing "numbs" it to some degree. (In some men, to such a degree that there is a severe loss of sexual function.) Nature intended the glans to be an internal organ, covered constantly by the foreskin. By restoring, you can bring that back, and restore the incredible sensitivity of the glans, and hence, increase sexual pleasure.
Q. Isn't it just a bunch of queers doing this restoration stuff? It seems that way...
A. There may be a lot of interest in foreskin restoration among gay men due to the increased attention paid to the male sexual organ among gays, but foreskin restoration is not a "queer" activity it's the activity of any circumcised male who is less than pleased with the physical and/or emotional result of their circumcision. Men of all sexual orientations, backgrounds, religions, and so on investigate foreskin restoration, many of them choose to proceed, and there's not really much more to it than that. I've personally spoken with hundreds of men, gay and straight, who are pleased to have discovered foreskin restoration, and are happier with themselves for it. Afterall, it's what you need and you want for yourself and your penis that matters here not what everyone else is doing or thinking.
Q. My girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/sex partner doesn't like uncircumcised men.
A. This is something you are going to have to deal with yourself. But in my personal opinion, it's your penis, and if you want to restore, restore. Should it be a discussion point? Sure. But it is your body we're talking about, and you're the one who has the ultimate control and responsibility.
Q. Don't uncut men smell? Doesn't an uncut penis get all cheesy?
A. I answer this way: Your armpits probably wouldn't get smelly if you cut your arms off. It is this sort of skewed logic that has driven circumcision for decades. The answer is yes, any part of your body that is moist and enclosed, whether an armpit, ass, or foreskin, can develop an odor. Naturally occurring bacteria and sloughed skin cells are the source. Washing yourself is the solution. If you don't wash it, it gets cheesy and smelly. Even when you do keep clean, the natural moisture under your foreskin has its own unique aroma that is quite natural, and, to most people, not objectionable.
Q. How do you know a restored foreskin is so superior?
A. Foreskin restoration isn't new. Most who have completed it, and many who've even started it and kept with it for very long, report the benefits. It's true that some men don't seem to notice (or won't admit) the differences. In any case, they are far outnumbered by the hundreds of men I've personally heard from over the years who make remarks like, "It's the best decision I ever made." "I can't believe the difference!" And so forth. Certainly a cut man who never starts has no way of knowing what he's lost. An uncut man who never gets circumcised doesn't know what he has. That's actually a unique advantage we have as men who've been cut and have restored we know both sides of the fence personally.
Q. What about surgical restoration?
A. Some have undergone surgical restoration, but it's problematic. Like all plastic surgery, foreskin restoration involves the use of skin grafts skin that is removed from one area of the body, and essentially "transplanted" to another area. The problem with skin grafts is that skin color, concentration of hair, and skin thickness varies all over our bodies. It's extemely difficult to graft skin onto the penis shaft and have it look even remotely natural in terms of hair, color, and thickness.
Then are the problems with the surgery itself. Skin grafts are not always successful, and when they fail, you'll end-up with less skin on your penis than you started with, not to mention a very unsightly result. Surgical restoration is a very risky procedure! It's also complicated, very expensive, and difficult to have done. But if you want to learn more, the Joy book I mention in the resources section has some information about it.
Q. What is a surgical touch-up?
A. Once you have used non-surgical restoration to fully restore your foreskin, it is possible to have very minor plastic surgery performed to help make the visual appearance of the result more natural. Intact men have a frenulum which keeps the skin forward over the glans (if you don't know these terms, refer to the anatomy guide). Circumcised males who have restored don't have one. The purpose of the touch-up surgery is to make the restored skin taper over the tip in a more natural-looking fashion. The Joy book mentioned in the resources section has details.
Q. Can you surgically restore a frenulum after non-surgically restoring the foreskin?
A. Not to the best of my knowledge (if someone has credible information to the contrary, let me know). The frenulum has a rather unique purpose, and a rather unique structure. It cannot be non-surgically restored, and it's doubtful that a surgical restoration of it is possible either (since the skin structure itself is the only one of its type on the body).
Q. Will my penis get longer from all the stretching?
A. Some have claimed that non-surgical foreskin restoration lengthens the penis. Medical sources I trust have indicated to me that supposed penis lengthening as a result of restoration efforts is, simply, totally false. I have, however, had men tell me that they are convinced some lengthening has occurred. First, don't expect penis lengthening, as it is unlikely. Secondly, even if your restoration efforts do lengthen your penis, most men wouldn't find that particularly bothersome, so don't lose sleep over it. But as I said, don't start the process thinking this is going to be a side-effect, because it probably isn't going to turn out that way.
Q. Are there creams or ointments I can use to speed things up?
A. Not that I'm aware of. The restoration process and the principle behind it is not something that occurs at the surface of your skin where some sort of cream could possibly have any effect. The entire thickness of the skin tissue comes into play here. Creams or ointments may make the skin feel better as you "rest" things between tapings, but they're not likely to actually speed the process along.
Q. When overweight people lose weight, their skin snaps back. Why doesn't this?
A. At first, nobody seems to believe that this is permanent. In any case, a doctor could probably give a more scientifically correct response, but essentially it's like this: When people are overweight, the actual tension on the skin tissue is not all that significant. Unless a person is grossly obese, it's very unlikely that the tension is high enough to result in the addition of significant new skin cells to the tissue. When weight is lost, skin elasticity will cause it to return to its normal state, especially if one is only modestly overweight.
With foreskin restoration efforts, the actual tension presented to the skin tissue is fairly significant, often well over a pound of weight directly focused on just a few specific inches of skin surface area. It is this high amount of tension that prompts the skin to actually grow.
Q. If I do this, how much of my progress will I lose due to shrinkage?
A. There's been a lot of discussion about "shrinkage" lately loss of some coverage you gain through restoration occurring when you stop. I've decided I'll address this concern in the commentary section.
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