Battlefield dressing set to speed bris healing
Medical technology developed for the United States military is being used by mohelim in Britain to halve the healing time of circumcision to two or three days.
The technique involves a dressing impregnated with kaolin, a blood-clotting agent derived from clay. It is applied immediately after the circumcision and stops all bleeding within 10 minutes, removing the need for bandages.
The technique was developed by an American medical company in 2002 as a treatment for heavily bleeding soldiers on the battlefield.
GP and mohel Dr David Hibbert, who performs 50 milot and 100 non-Jewish circumcisions a year, helped introduce the procedure to the Initiation Society, which trains and governs UK Jewish circumcision practitioners.
Around half its registered mohelim are now using the new bandage after trials over the past 18 months.
"I started using this kaolin-impregnated gauze about two years ago. The effect was just so obvious - you weren't getting a crying baby afterwards.
"My experience is that a circumcision should take no more than 15 seconds. In less than minute the baby is dressed and after 20 minutes there is no medically significant bleeding and baby is calm.
"This is an advance which doesn't contradict halachah, and actually enhances it, because we are obligated to reduce any form of suffering."
The concept of impregnating bandages with healing compounds for milah is not new.
The Talmud and key Jewish texts record the use of bandages mixed with spices and oils, and even allow breaking Shabbat in certain circumstances to ensure their manufacture to aid a baby's aftercare.
David Bondt, from north Manchester, whose son Aaron had his bris milah using the new technique, said: "With our first son it took at least a week, even two weeks, to heal. With this, even a day afterwards it looked like it was already healing very well."