How Much Does a Circumcision Cost at Mass General?


My son was born 14 mo ago and because he was born in a Birth Center, he could not get circumcised at birth. Our hospital (Cambridge Hospital in MA) does not have a pediatric surgeon for this procedure so we were given a referral for a doctor at Mass General (Boston, MA). When I called Mass General to get a quote on the price, I got the following:

(includes Facility, Physician, Anesthesia)

This procedure is less than 30 minutes; the doctor himself even stated that this is one of the easiest procedures. I’ve researched prices for other countries and found a high of $1200.


  1. A good mohel will charge betwee $500 and $800, but since it’s a religious obligation a good mohel will not turn you down if you can’t afford to pay. So…convert to Judaism and cry about being poor. Or…leave the kid’s junk alone. I’m glad I had daughters. I probably would have needed to get super-drunk in order to allow someone to cut my baby in my living room in front of guests. And then have to serve them tuna salad and cake? Fuck that.

    1. There’s also the possibility that the mohel could transmit a potentially fatal disease to your child (twins in New York got herpes, one died), but as long as God approves, it’s okay.

    1. Now I’m certainly not pro-circumcision, but now I’m actually curious as to how thankful you are. Please let me know. I never had the opportunity to frolick with my foreskin before it was so tragically sundered from the rest of my business, so I have to live vicariously through you and yours.

      1. Do you know how a ball bearing works? Reducing friction by adding layers of smooth gliding surfaces and self lubrication.

        To the whole thing add a sensitivity like fingertips, except always pleasurable spread over a large surface. And a mechanism of retraction and protection which like a well crafted toy simply invites playing around, just due to its tactile response, like a switch blade invites people to flick it in and out. Like an IKEA drawer that just begs to be opened and closed.

  2. If I was looking into having parts of my baby amputated for aesthetic reasons, I’d expect at least an arm for £23k!

    What a rip off.

  3. It’s funny how strongly some people seem to feel about this. There are also medical reasons to do one, not just aesthetic.

    Anyway, I had mine with 20, so I know how it is before and after. For me it’s better now and I fail to see why it shouldn’t be.

    Now I understand the argument to leave to decision to the kid once it is grown up. But I don’t understadn stuff like “I am so glad my parents didn’t do that to me. Don’t even consider it.” How do you even know what it means to be circumcised?

    1. Cirrumcision is not natural and it is not reversible. It is unneccesary and probably traumatic to the infant. Not to mention the chance of doctor error or infections.

      I was shocked when I heard it was commonplace to do them in the USA, since I am European. I honestly thought this was just practiced by jews and muslims for some strange religious reasons.

      Also saying that they are medical reasons for removing a art of you is a bit stupid. There are more medical reasons for not amputating a healthy part of your body.

      1. You are surprisingly uninformed. There are medical conditions that make a circumcision necessary. Also, many circumcisions are done with anesthesia. Mine was and I was not traumatized.

        If you care, for example, to read the Wikpedia article on the subject you will also see that circumcision also has several advantages, like lower chance of passing on HPV, getting urinary tract infection, penile cancer.

        Anyway, as I said before I certainly understand if the decision is left to the kid once it is grown up (and I do not even know if I would do this to my kids), but I have trouble understanding the outcry.

      2. Thomas, the alleged advantages are dwarfed by the dangers and ill-effects of circumcision. According to wikipedia, the complication rate for circumcision is somewhere between 0.6% and 55%. The base risk for penile cancer (regardless of circumcision) is quoted as around 1 per 100,000 in the US and 0.82 per 100,000 in Denmark, a factor of 1000 lower than the complication rate for the procedure (and notably the base cancer rate is lower in the non-circumcising country). It’s absolutely ridiculous to claim that the reduced cancer risk is an advantage of the procedure in the face of that. Same thing for urinary tract infection; the risk for infection induced by the procedure itself is higher than the base risk for urinary tract infection, so again, not an advantage there.

        As for hygiene, findings seem inconclusive;

        Van Howe found that circumcised penises required more care in the first 3 months of life, and that circumcised boys are more likely to develop balanitis.

        Anyway, the whole thing is just as bizarre as female circumcision to me. Around here, we as a rule of thumb try not to mutilate the genitalia of our children unless absolutely necessary.

      3. I did not say that the advantages outweigh disadvantages.

        But you have to be more careful with citing sources. The article says the complication rate is between *0.06%* and 55%. Now if you actually look at the study, the circumcisions studied also include those without anesthesia in environments which have not been sanitized (Nigeria has a complication rate of 52%). It further cites that complications also include “easily controllable bleeding”.

        Also, you conveniently forget to factor in that the chance of passing on HPV is substantially lower.

        Again, I am not pro-circumcision, but I find foreskin overrated and cannot understand all the yapping about circumcision. I have been operating my machinery with more and less foreskin and both is perfectly fine.

      4. You know what drops the rate of HPV even lower? Total amputation of the reproductive system! It’s totally worth it, you guys!

        I’m kinda pissed my parents didn’t have my appendix removed. I now stand a far greater risk of appendicitis. Stupid, careless parents.

      5. As pointed out earlier, the risk of sexually transmitted disease is lower in circumcised men. This also includes the risk of getting HIV:
        “After adjustment for confounding factors in the population-based studies, the relative risk for HIV infection was 44% lower in circumcised men. The strongest association was seen in men at high risk, such as patients at sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics, for whom the adjusted relative risk was 71% lower for circumcised men.”

        > “You know what drops the rate of HPV even lower? Total amputation of the reproductive system! It’s totally worth it, you guys!”
        Yeah, that’s a fair analogy. Two can play that game, though: don’t get your appendix removed, get your whole intestinal tract removed, and then you’ll never need to worry about appendicitis. Don’t get your tonsils removed, get your entire head removed.

      6. > “Anyway, the whole thing is just as bizarre as female circumcision to me.”
        Female circumcision is done to prevent women from feeling sexual pleasure. (And I’ve heard that it works quite well in accomplishing that.) Studies of circumcised and uncircumcised men show that it has NO effect on pleasure for men. I really hate when people compare the two.

    2. There are zero medical reasons for circumcision. Absolutely zero. Even in the cases of severe phimosis (I had it so badly that my penis was actually bent over on itself within the foreskin) a dorsal slit is all that is needed to allow the glans to extend beyond the foreskin.

      Shame my parents never knew about that.

      1. Why do people always have to talk in absolutes?

        My doctor did not recommend a dorsal slit.

        So no, not zero medical reasons. Also think of paraphimosis.

        I know way too much about dicks it seems…

      2. You’re right, “never” is a bit extreme. But unless the actual foreskin and nothing but has turned gangrenous or infected with Necrotising fasciitis I’d say there are very, very very few legitimate medical reasons for its removal.

  4. I had my first child circumsized…. and the dr messed it up. Now he will always have a scar… and hopefully no lasting effects.

    Knowing what I know now – I would never make the same decision to have a child circumsized.

  5. Erm… I think you’ve interpreted a lot of inconclusive and statistically slight statements about various diseases under various circumstances (HIV in Africa, when we are looking at Circumcision in the USA) from the wikipedia page as being advantages to being routinely circumcised when very littl of that page is strongly positive in favour of circumcision, without taking into account the risks of complicaitons and trauma.

    There are medical conditions that necessitate circumcision and I don’t think anyone is critical of the process uncer those circumstances.

    The quote above doesn’t indicate a medical problem, only a desire by the parents to have it done because this wasn’t offered at the birthing centre.

    The reason why people are ‘so glad that their parents didn’t do that to them’ is the same reason that they’re so glad their parents didn’t unecessarily have their little toe cut off, it’s an amputation based on cultural routine but is nevertheless an amputation, something that needs to be completed for a very good reason.

    The outcry is because such an invasive procedure on an non-concenting infant is abusive even with anaesthetic because there will be residual pain even without infection and if you described the procedure and consequences to most parents who have circumcision performed without actually saying it was circumcision, they would be disgusted at the notion.

    It’s a cultural dysfuncion to seek to amputate uncecssarily in a baby and for the resulting ‘aesthetic’ of an amputation looking ‘better’ as a preference which always comes out in polls on the subject (I’m pretty sure during chinese foot binding that little deformed feet were also considered to be looking ‘better’ hence the mutilation).

    What I’ve never understood is how circumcision became so prvailant in the US in the first place.

    1. You make a couple of good points and I agree with most of it, but…

      Some of the studies are quite conclusive (HPV, the one about the complication rate). The one about HIV is inconclusive, true, it says so on the page and that’s why I have never cited it. Or which one do you mean?

      And what about residual pain? Have I been traumatized without knowing?

      Anyway, I absolutely agree it is being done way too often and for all the wrong (religious) reasons.

      Still I do not understand stuff like “I was lucky enough to not be circumcised and I can’t tell you how thankful I am!”? And why do men who have not been circumcized tell how much better more foreskin is when they just do not know?

  6. Gratuitous mutilation. Can we assume that you’ll also be putting a bone in his nose and disks in his lips? And in yours, as well?

  7. $23,000? If you want to just wantonly cut off erogenous zones and cause a great deal of discomfort, risk of infection and lifelong scarring to your child then just take a pair of scissors to his nipples at home and rub shit in the wound.

  8. Do people really still cut parts of their babies penises off? I thought only backwards people from third world countries did that. Do they still eat the left over bits?

    There are some very strange people in the world……

  9. That price doesn’t sound surprising for a COSMETIC SURGERY. Why do you feel compelled to cut the most sensitive piece of skin on your son’s body OFF? Just because it was done to you? Torture doesn’t have to beget more torture.

    1. > “Why do you feel compelled to cut the most sensitive piece of skin on your son’s body OFF? ”

      Just so you know, it doesn’t seem to affect sensitivity, so talking about the “most sensitive piece of skin” is misleading:
      “Well-designed studies of sexual sensation and function in relation to male circumcision are few, and the results present a mixed picture. Taken as a whole, the studies suggest that some decrease in sensitivity of the glans to fine touch can occur following circumcision [18]. However, several studies conducted among men after adult circumcision suggest that few men report their sexual functioning is worse after circumcision; most report either improvement or no change [19–22]. The three African trials found high levels of satisfaction among the men after circumcision [9, 10, 11, 16]; however, cultural differences limit extrapolation of their findings to U.S. men.”

  10. The high cost in this instance may be attributed to the insurance cost incurred by the hospitals. Many parents have successfully sued for millions of dollars in damages due to bungling of this microsurgery.

    In the rest of the western, industrialized world, newborn circumcision rates run around 2%. Quite a difference. Why are Americans so obsessed with this fetish?

  11. Whooo – I saw what a baby looked like after having it done and it wasn’t pretty. Ugh. It is so unnecessary. But I will tell you that this of you who DO still have your coats – WASH IT!! The main complaint I hear about it is the constant yeast infections you uncut guys give us girls. Wash your collar guys!!!

    This public service was shared by my gay friend, bless his heart. I can’t BELIEVE I didn’t know that one!

  12. $23K is crazy. In fact unbelievably so. This sounds like a bit of an urban legend, or some miscommunication at best.

    Plenty of arguments pro and con of circumcision, but there is really no arguing that it reduces the transmission of HIV and other STDs at this point.

    The fanatic “DON’T CUT” contingent likes to ignore the facts. From the Centers for Disease Control web site. With a LONG list of relevant studies cited:

    There are cultural, religious, and personal reasons pro and con.

    1. Actually, there is arguing with it. The studies I’ve seen tend to be deeply flawed.

      That said, even if a legit, scientific study shows what they say it shows, that doesn’t make it okay to permanently scar your child before they’re capable of any kind of consent. By the time the transmission of STDs becomes a relevant factor, the penis-owner will be able to decide for himself whether he wants it done.

      1. I don’t have the relevant literature in front of me, so I’ll concede that point to the CDC. My final point stands, though. Voluntary surgery should never be carried out on those incapable of consenting to it.

      2. Ah yes, like all the ranters, when confronted with actual logic and data, the argument changes.

        You are clearly not very well informed. Please allow me to enlighten you further. How ’bout the fact that when performed on a newborn circumcision is largely benign, and heals in 3-5 days. When performed on an adult it requires anesthesia, can be quite painful, and takes weeks to heal.

        So let’s review, significantly reduces the chance of contracting and dying of HIV as an adult, largely benign and painless as a newborn. Culturally accepted as the norm by many cultures around the world…

        Let me guess, are you opposed to childhood vaccination as well?

        And how do you feel about fluoride in toothpaste?

      3. @ MacCrocodile: Never? Like, never ever? I hope you don’t actually mean that. There are all kinds of beneficial pediatric surgeries performed for non-life-threatening reasons. Plastic surgery for cleft palate and polydactyly come to mind as pretty common, as well as cochlear implants for some deaf babies.

      4. Eat a dick, voiceofreason. I stated my opposition to elective surgery in infants from the beginning. I’m just not interested in getting into a link war today. Maybe I did speak out of my ass when I decried the studies, but I’m just not interested in getting into that. Consider this my official withdrawal of that argument with humblest apologies. And where’s your evidence that it’s painless as a newborn? Do newborns not have nerve endings? And cultural acceptance is a poor argument. Is that argument to say that millions of Jews can’t be wrong?

        For the record, you pompous ass, vaccination is important for children to get ASAP. There are health risks well before a child can consent. The spread of STDs is irrelevant to an infant. Fluoride in toothpaste? Did you mean to say the water?

        Angry Sam, there are plenty of functional reasons for dealing with a cleft palette early on, including speech development. While not life-threatening, there are good reasons for dealing with that early on. Perhaps I should have said “cosmetic surgery” rather than “voluntary”. Polydactyly is a grayer area, but the aesthetics of that can have significant impact on the motor and social development of a child. Whether a baby has a foreskin or not, I fail to see the developmental or health benefit.

      5. For the record, I also agree with the end of the post I linked to. I do not feel that I am horribly wounded for having been circumcised. I lead a happy and sexually-fulfilled life, even having never known what it’s like to have a foreskin. I don’t hold any resentment for my parents; they were following the best (and only) medical advice they were given and the social norms of the time and place where I was born.

        But I do think the practice needs to be evaluated and thoughtfully considered, and absent some major, immediate benefit, I think it is irresponsible to make a decision like that for a person.

      6. Glad to see your primary source is a clueless blogger as opposed to the CDC or the UN.

        “Eat dick” as well is certainly the tone of a well informed individual interested in informed debate.

        I was afraid the fluoride in the water reference would be lost on a clueless dimwit like yourself so I mentioned toothpaste as I figured you would be aware that toothpaste does in fact usually have fluoride in it.

        While we’re getting personal I imagine your diminutive member is the source of much of your angst and terror about a perfectly sound medical procedure with several thousand years of evidence supporting it’s health benefits.

        I am not stating in any way that circumcision is for everyone. To each his own.

        I am stating that it is NOT mutilation, and there are documented health benefits to doing it.

  13. Wow! My first two grandsons were circumcised because their father said he wanted them to look like him. The next two were not, as their father is Mexican and saw no reason to cut them. Number 5 was going to be circumcised for the same reason as 1 and 2, but he had a difficult birth. The parents decided they could not submit him to more pain. Number 6 is not circumcised either. I really believe/think that it’s not a good idea to do it unless you are Muslim or Jewish. But you all probably know how I feel about doing extreme things for religious reasons.

  14. I wonder if all the folks citing a lower risk of particular std’s as reason enough for an unnecessary surgery have given up on the idea of teaching their children about safe sex. Just cutting off a foreskin isn’t going to provide enough protection from cooties, many of which are embarrassing if not life threatening.

      1. The risk of complication is even lower…

        Not saying one should therefore do it, but you seem very determined to ignore one side of the argument.

      2. You obviously did not read ANY of the relevant literature and are also just speaking out of your posterior. From the UNAIDS link above:

        “The study, which was carried out in the township of Orange Farm in South Africa, resulted in a 55% reduction in HIV prevalence and a 76% reduction in HIV incidence in circumcised men.”

        I know the whole reading thing is pretty challenging, but teh internets are both a great place to post your opinions AND to actually learn something.

        Before posting, I usually try to be a little bit informed on the topics on which I rant. That affliction is obviously not universal.

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