Infant tongue tie surgery

Tongue tie procedure – Transcript

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence supports tongue tie division, understanding that it’s safe and that it can improve breastfeeding for some mothers. So if you’re looking for a tongue-tie practitioner in the UK, the Association of Tongue Tie Practitioners website can give you a list.

A lot of breastfeeding mothers can feel really daunted when they’re waiting for a tongue tie division for their baby. If that is you, please be assured that it is a simple procedure, doesn’t take long at all – just a second or two, and it involves cutting the tight frenulum which is a tight piece of skin that holds the underside of the tongue – attaches it actually, to the bottom of your baby’s mouth.

And if your baby is less than 4 months old, the procedure is so simple that it can be carried out without painkillers or anaesthesia at all. If your baby is over four months, then a general anaesthetic would be needed for this procedure. That’s also true for children and adults.

So when your baby has the tongue-tie released, the specialist will use finger and thumb, just underneath your baby’s tongue – and that’s to get a good view of that frenulum (that tight piece of skin). Then she will use a very small pair of scissors to cut that area very quickly. The procedure is very swift and you can bring your baby to the breast really quickly afterwards. Some babies don’t even wake up during that (procedure) but others might cry a little.

And just for your reassurance you would expect to see a drop or two of blood at the incision site, but this is normal – and a white patch can develop under your baby’s tongue which also is normal. It usually takes up to 2 weeks to resolve.

Complications to this procedure are extremely rare but if you did feel that there was infection or bleeding, anything untoward, please seek out medical help. While many breastfeeding babies can breastfeed really well following the procedure almost instantly, for some of you, you’ll find that your babies take one or two weeks –   so if this is your baby please don’t be discouraged because your baby is suddenly finding that he can do so much more with his tongue, and it can feel different – so perseverance and patience and attention to good a good latch is still really important.

If however you don’t see an improvement with your baby’s feeding even after a couple of weeks it may be necessary to see your tongue tie practitioner again. It might be that tongue exercises are warranted and sometimes in rare situations the tongue tie divide may not have been done extensively enough and may need to be done again.

So to summarize, this procedure is quick, it’s often painless and it can help you and your baby to get back on track.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022

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