Tongue tie surgery
What is tongue tie?
Tongue tie is also known as ‘ankyloglossia’. It occurs when the thin membrane under the tongue, known as the ‘lingual frenulum’, restricts the movements of the tongue. You might also hear this condition described as posterior tongue tie, or lip and tongue tie.
Lip tie is a slightly different condition, though it may come connected with the tongue tie. You can read more about lip tie here.
It is estimated that infant tongue tie affects between 4 - 11% of newborns.
Tongue tie symptoms and problems in children
If your newborn has a tongue tie, the neonatologist or paediatrician may detect it at the newborn baby check. It may be obvious because it depresses the tongue tip, giving it a ‘heart-shaped’ deformity.
The condition may also be noted by the paediatrician, GP or lactation specialist. There is a link between tongue tie and any breastfeeding problems that you may be experiencing. One of the common tongue tied baby symptoms is difficulty nursing. The newborn requires good tongue function and mobility to breastfeed effectively.
During breastfeeding, newborns with tongue tie can struggle to latch on properly, resulting in poor feeding, poor weight gain, clicking sounds, and air swallowing. For Mum, there can be nipple soreness and inflammation.
Sometimes, despite the presence of the condition, babies manage to feed and thrive during the newborn period.
There is some evidence that future speech development can be affected by the presence of restrictive tongue tie. A speech pathologist may detect it’s presence in children with speech problems and refer them for medical attention.
Tongue tie may impact your baby’s ability to breastfeed, and speech development.
The condition may be diagnosed by a paediatrician, GP, or lactation specialist.
It can be corrected easily with a ten-minute procedure for infants, and a simple day procedure for children over six months old.
What is tongue tie surgery?
If there is a concern that your child has tongue tie, your GP, paediatrician or lactation specialist will refer them to our practice. We undertake a careful history and examination to confirm the presence and the severity of the condition.
Tongue tie treatment is slightly different for infants and older children.
For infants under 6 months of age, we offer surgery to release the tongue tie in the consulting rooms. The procedure takes around 10 minutes.
Tongue tie release is performed by soft tissue laser. The laser technique allows precision and accuracy in the division of the tie. Your baby will be able to have a feed straight away after the procedure is performed.
We will educate you about some stretching exercises for your baby’s tongue as a part of the recovery. These exercises will keep the release site supple while it heals.
For children over 6 months of age, we offer tongue tie release under a short general anaesthetic as a day procedure. The child can feed normally after the procedure.
Pros and cons of tongue tie surgery
Tongue tie release surgery for newborns with breastfeeding difficulty has been shown to be very effective in treating and improving the problem.
For children over 6 months of age, the release procedure is offered under a short general anaesthetic, so the child is unaware, not afraid, and pain-free during the procedure.
During the newborn period, laser release of tongue tie is quick, precise and effective.
Many factors can affect feeding and speech development. There is a general consensus that if restrictive tongue tie is detected, then early tongue tie release should be undertaken, to immediately address any negative potential impact the condition has on feeding or speech development.
The risks of the release procedure, when done by a trained paediatric surgeon, are very low. The risk of bleeding is less than 1%, and the risk of recurrent tongue tie is 1%.
Post-op care after tongue tie surgery
How much does tongue tie surgery cost?
We strive to deliver the highest level of paediatric surgical service to families. All children, whether they are newborn, toddlers, young children or teenagers, deserve excellent support and care. As surgeons we believe that it is essential to address paediatric urology and surgical problems in accordance with world’s best practice.
If children require surgery, our role encompasses building a reassuring environment to prepare your family for the surgery, and of course to provide expert surgical care and follow-up. At WA Paediatric Surgery and Urology, both our surgeons and our team will be here to assist you with kindness and support.
Lip tie surgery
Groin & scrotum conditions
Foreskin & penile conditions
Contact our paediatric surgeons and urologists
Dr Andrew Barker
Dr Naeem Samnakay
85 Monash Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009