After the operation your whole penis will be swollen and look very bruised. This is a normal effect of both the injected anaesthetic and the handling it necessarily receives during the operation. These will gradually reduce over the next week or two.
If you normally wear boxers you may find that they give insufficient support immediately post-operative. You may wish to consider some form of briefs which will hold your penis in position and thus reduce the frictional stimulation which it would otherwise receive if allowed to swing freely.
Some doctors bandage only the immediate area of the cut but most will apply a bandage to the whole shaft. This bandage will normally be of a special compression type or else be wound tightly around the penis. It serves two purposes, to protect the wound and to contain and reduce the swelling.
Removal of the initial bandage is a compromise between maintaining the compression for as long as possible to reduce swelling as fast as possible, and changing the dressing on the wound before it sticks too much to the healing skin.
2 to 3 days after the operation is generally regarded as the best compromise time. The bandage will, most likely, be well caked in blood (particularly the inner layers) and will need to be soaked off in the bath to avoid tearing the healing wound.
Put only enough lukewarm water in a bath as needed to just cover your groin completely. Throw in a couple of handfuls of salt to promote healing. DO NOT add any form of antiseptic solution. Sterilize a pair of small scissors by dipping in an antiseptic solution followed by a quick rinse in clear water (they will not actually touch your wound, so need not be absolutely aseptic). Use these to cut the bandage into manageable lengths as you unwind it. (Having a small plastic bag available to throw the used bandage into is a good idea.) Slowly unwind the bandage, stopping whenever you start to need to use any force to release it let the water soak the clotted blood off and then continue. Be sure to remove ALL of the bandage, including any odd strands of gauze which might otherwise become embedded in the wound.
Once the bandage is off, swill away the bloody water and replace with more lukewarm water and salt. Allow the exposed penis to soak for a few minutes (not too long, but enough to remove caked blood) and then pat dry with a gauze pad followed by applying a fresh bandage to protect the wound as it continues to heal. A thin coating of a bland ointment, e.g. Vaseline, before applying the bandage will reduce the possibility of blood making it stick to the skin.
Repeat the process every 48 hours or so until the middle of the second week, after which the light bandage can be left on or off as you wish. If you choose not to use a bandage then a gauze pad or even paper tissue may be useful to prevent the stitches catching in your underwear.
Do not apply any antiseptic cream to your penis, nor add any antiseptic to bath water. Whilst they do help to kill germs, most are corrosive to new skin and actually slow down healing. In the rare cases where an infection develops, see a doctor as soon as possible.
It can be beneficial and very soothing to soak the wound for 10 to 15 minutes a couple of times a day in a cupful of cooled, boiled water to which has been added a teaspoon of salt.
Everyone reacts differently in respect of pain. For most people circumcision will not be truly painful, but a degree of discomfort is to be expected during the first few days.
If you choose to take pain killing tablets then follow the instructions precisely. Do not take more than the recommended maximum dose.
If you have a favourite brand of pain killer and the doctor has prescribed something else, be sure to ask about the effects of 'mixing and matching'.
Do not take Aspirin or any Aspirin based product since these thin the blood and have an anti-clotting action which can increase bleeding from a wound.
Stitches (sutures in medical parlance) need to remain in place long enough for the cut edges to knit together but not so long as to allow the skin around them to fully heal. In practice this usually means they should remain for between 1 and 2 weeks. Leaving them longer increases the risk of small holes (or 'stitch tunnels') remaining in the skin.
Although the doctor will normally use soluble (or self-dissolving) stitches they should still be removed after 2 weeks if not already dissolved by then. You can go to your own doctor to have the stitches removed or can do it yourself (even easier, get your partner or a friend to do it for you).
To reduce the effect of nocturnal erections pulling on the stitches during the first few days, empty your bladder before retiring and a few times during the night. Do not lie on your back, but on your side. It may be helpful to draw your knees up a bit into a more foetal position.
Do not be over eager to have sex until your circumcision has healed, which will normally take up to six weeks.
To avoid excessive friction on the healing scar line you may wish to consider the use of a condom. A condom should always be used for penetrative sex (even with a regular partner) until the scar line is completely healed and settled down, which may take two to three months to achieve.
Time off School or Work
There is no absolute need to take time off school or work after circumcision, but you may find it very hard to concentrate on work for the first few days and so may find it useful to take a week off.
A week (or even two) off work is very desirable if you do heavy lifting or if your job keeps you seated and unable to move around freely for long periods.
Do not schedule a circumcision immediately before major examinations if you wish to pass them, as you cannot get up and walk around to relieve any pressure on your penis.
You should naturally avoid fast-moving or contact sports, cycling and swimming until your circumcision has fully healed.