Frenuloplasty—What is it and what should I expect?

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A frenuloplasty is a surgical procedure that involves the modification or removal of the lingual frenulum, which is a small fold of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. A restriction of the lingual frenulum (tongue tie) restricts the movement of the tongue and can lead to a variety of symptoms including difficulties in speech, breastfeeding (in infants), and other oral functions.

At Santa Teresa Smiles, frenuloplasty is one of the ways we treat tongue ties in our patients. (Each person and case is unique and we will evaluate you on your first visit.)

What does the procedure look like?

  • Local Anesthesia: The procedure is typically performed using local anesthesia to numb the area, ensuring that you don’t feel any pain during the surgery.
  • Incision or Release: The trained dentist or healthcare provider will make an incision or use a laser to release the tight or thickened frenulum. This allows for improved tongue movement.
  • Suturing: In some cases, after the frenulum is released, sutures (stitches) might be used to close the incision site. The sutures used are typically dissolvable and do not need to be removed.
  • Recovery: Recovery time is generally short. You may experience some discomfort or mild pain at the surgical site for a few days, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

What are the benefits of a frenuloplasty?

  • Improved Tongue Movement: Following the procedure, you should notice an improvement in your ability to move your tongue freely. This can have positive impacts on speech, oral hygiene, and relieve any symptoms you may be experiencing.
  • Minimal Discomfort: The discomfort or pain after the surgery is usually manageable and should decrease within a few days.
  • Follow-Up: You may have a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider to ensure that the healing process is going well and remove any sutures that may have been needed.
  • Speech and Feeding Improvements: If the procedure was performed on an infant with breastfeeding difficulties due to tongue tie, you should see improvements in the baby’s ability to latch onto the breast and feed effectively.
  • Risk of Complications: Complications from a lingual frenuloplasty are rare, but as with any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection, bleeding, or adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Frenuloplasty vs Frenectomy

You may have heard the term frenectomy when it comes to the treatment of tongue ties, but there are two main procedures done in office. The main difference between the two procedures lies in the amount of tissue that is removed or modified. Frenuloplasty aims to modify the frenulum while preserving some tissue, whereas frenectomy involves the complete removal of the frenulum.

Frenuloplasty is generally considered less invasive and complex since it is modifying and not completely removing and is chosen when there is a preference to maintain some sensory functions or aesthetics while still addressing functional concerns. Frenectomy is chosen when functional improvement is the primary goal, especially in cases of severe tongue tie.

Ultimately, the choice between frenuloplasty and frenectomy depends on the individual’s specific situation, the severity of the tongue tie, and the goals of the patient and healthcare provider. Dr. Oushy will review all the benefits and few risks associated with a frenuloplasty and go over before and post surgical care that each patient will need to complete if this treatment is right for you, including any therapies like myofunctional that you may need in conjunction with this procedure.