“To expose a long penis, and especially the head, was regarded as shameless and dishonourable, something we see only in depictions of slaves and barbarians.” – Paul Zanker, The Mask of Socrates
The pen is mightier than the sword, but the penis… Well, not so much. Throughout history there has been a clash of cultures regarding the practice of removing the foreskin. To read the comments on the internet, you might think that we are living in the most heated time of debate for the practice. And you’d be wrong.
In ancient Greece and Etruria (AKA pre-Rome), it was common for athletes to be nude, and for poets, and people working out, people heading to the baths, etc. As the quote above from Paul Zanker’s book indicates, while your penis has its little outfit on, you were practically clothed. When some glans decides to peek out, you were exposing yourself and that was the height of rudeness.
The solution was kynodesme, today called infibulation, where a piece of string or leather strap was tied around the foreskin to prevent it from receding. A great example is the famous statue Boxer at Rest, a bronze from 100-50BCE, that features a maybe-barbarian boxer with scarred genitals who is wearing a string round his foreskin while he takes a rest from his match. Other candidates for kynodesme were older men who were starting to “peek-out” a bit at the gymnasium, and the aforementioned slaves and barbarians.
It was shortly after the Boxer at Rest’s time when the first surgical procedure for restoring a foreskin was developed. During the time of Tiberius, between 14 and 37 CE, a couple of different treatments were being performed by a guy named Celsus, who wrote them down so we know about them today.
The basic operation: A string is tied to hold the foreskin over the glans, and then a cut is carefully made around the base of the penis. Everything slides forward, and the penis is bandaged so the cut at the base heals over and you wind up with plenty of foreskin.
That’s if you’re just a bit short on skin.
For the full circumcision reversal, Celsus would cut around the base of the glans and pull the skin over the head of the penis and tie it, so that the exposed-underskin part is tied up with the head of the penis. To help visualize, imagine pulling a t-shirt over your head, but with penis skin instead of a t-shirt.
This page has some handy diagrams. Warning, pictures of penises* may be found there.
The basic surgery, called a ‘degloving’ by a doctor with no bedside manner, was still performed until the 1960s essentially the same way, with the addition of a skin graft to help the base of the penis heal faster.
Modern foreskin restoration is a huge deal. Entire internet cultures exist in places like Reddit, and on dedicated websites like NORM and CIRP, which are devoted to helping men regrow foreskins and people sharing stories about their progress, as well as questions.
And the process is one body modification enthusiasts are familiar with: Stretching. Special plastic cones are placed over the head of the penis, and the skin is stretched around them and some form of pressure is applied, either a spring load, rubber bands, weights or elastic straps are used to stretch the skin of the penis. Working in 4 hour intervals, any more and you risk inflammation and issues, the skin is stretched gradually over a period of months or even years until it’s Ancient Greek Athletic length. As with all skin stretching, care and patience are paramount.
Most modern foreskin restorers do it not out of a sense of public decency, but of aesthetics (To be fair, aesthetics was also a prime motivator for the ancient Greeks), and various degrees of sexual concern. Some say that the lack of foreskin desensitizes the glans.
Interested in the benefits of a covered glans, but not into stretching skin? Silicone cups can be purchased from vendors like TLCTugger.com(Retailer of the most widely used stretching devices as well) that can simulate the foreskin.