A few years ago, Robbie Boucher (now a 32 year old father of two) noticed the sensitivity of his penis was dropping dramatically. Turning to the Internet for answers, it wasn’t long before he came across an uncomfortable idea: what if the reason he was losing sensitivity was a result of his circumcision as an infant? The theory went this way: had the exposed glans of his penis built up extra layers of tissue over the years, much as a foot would get calluses after walking barefoot? Had Robbie’s penis been surgically de-sensitized?
Robbie felt cheated and left reeling from a deep sense of loss. So he joined the growing ranks of American men attempting to restore their foreskins. We’ve witnessed some of Robbie’s journey, and his quest to create the ultimate tugger, in this short documentary produced with Heat Street.
There are no official numbers, but online forums and sales figures suggest there are tens of thousands of men currently “restoring”. For instance, the largest online community, RestoringForeskin.org, has more than 16,000 members. And Ron Low, maker of the popular ‘TLC Tugger’ has seen his business grow steadily over the past decade, with around 5,000 new customers each year.
Restorers believe the foreskin is not just a useless flap – they argue it protects the head of the penis and makes for better sex. They use a range of devices and their hands to gently tug on the remaining foreskin. This sustained tension over time creates extra tissue. And although it doesn’t have the specialized nerves and physiological functions of an actual foreskin, restorers such as Robbie say it makes a big difference in the bedroom. Skeptical? There are plenty of time lapse videos online (major NSFW) that show it is indeed possible to create the appearance of a new foreskin, however no official studies have been done to test whether this new skin coverage actually makes the penis more sensitive. The American Urological Association does not have a position on the practice and there is nothing in the medical literature. Robbie says he doesn’t care if the physical improvements are all in his head – he will continue restoring because it brings him an enormous amount of satisfaction and relief.
For Robbie and other restorers, it’s not just about physical sensation, it’s about regaining a sense of wholeness. Restorers see circumcision as a human rights issue – akin to that surrounding child genital mutilation. Robbie is not angry with his parents – he understands they were just following the doctor’s advice. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the medical benefits of routine infant circumcision outweigh the risks. This guidance stands in contrast to that of other Western countries such as Australia, Britain and Canada which say circumcision is not medically necessary.