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What Is a Frenulotomy?

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Updated September 02, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is a Frenulotomy?
Answer:

Frenulotomy is a surgery used to correct a congenital condition in which the lingual frenulum is too short, causing restricted tongue movement (ankyloglossia). This condition is commonly called a tongue tie. Approximately 3% to 5% of the population has this condition, but not every one needs a frenulotomy.

Frenulotomy (sometimes called frenulectomy or frenuloplasty) may be recommended if a child has:

  • difficulty feeding and poor weight gain
  • speech difficulties
  • difficulty swallowing
  • inability to lick an ice cream cone or sucker
  • difficulty moving the tongue (side to side, sticking it out, touching the roof of the mouth)
  • significant dental problems

A frenulotomy can be done in a doctor's office for an infant under the age of 6 months. For children older than that, it is usually done under general anesthesia in a same-day surgery facility.

Complications as a result of this surgery are rare. If the child had difficulty speaking before the surgery, she may require speech therapy afterward to correct a speech impediment.

Sources:

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Fact Sheet: Tounge Tie. Accessed August 26, 2010 from http://www.adhb.govt.nz/newborn/Guidelines/Nutrition/Ankyloglossia.htm

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