Tongue Tie

Spire Parkway Hospital offers Tongue Tie treatment with our plastic surgeon consultant Mr Bruce Richard.

Tongue Tie Treatment available at Spire Parkway Hospital    Hands

Spire Parkway Hospital offers a quick and safe treatment for tongue tie in children which can be making breastfeeding difficult. In doing so Parkway aims to help and support new mothers who may feel anxious about their new-borns success in breastfeeding and the health concerns they have over their child’s health regarding a tongue tie.

Parkway is happy to announce we have experts in this field, Bruce Richard, Consultant Paediatric Plastic Surgeon provides this service at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Joanna Hall, Paediatric Specialist Nurse works alongside Mr Richard at Parkway.

What is tongue tie?

Tongue tie is caused by a tight or short membrane under the tongue. The tongue tip may appear blunt or forked or have a heart shaped appearance. This may lead to breast feeding or bottle feeding difficulties. Tongue tie is a birth defect that affects 3-10% of new-born babies (1) but not all babies with tongue tie require an intervention.

Why treat tongue tie?

Treating tongue tie early can aid breast feeding. Breast milk is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Benefits include longer protection and greater benefits with the breast milk adapting to meet your baby’s changing needs (2). Choosing to breast feed your new-born baby may be an easy decision, but sometimes breast feeding isn’t as easy as it seems.

Problems associated with tongue tie

For the mother it can lead to sore, damaged or bruised nipples and feeding can be painful and due to poor drainage. Mothers can develop mastitis, infection, congestion and reduced milk supply which can lead to more frequent feeds.

For the baby the restricted tongue movements mean they receive less milk and colic, wind and flatulence may be caused by excessive air swallowing.



Will tongue tie affect my baby's speech?

Most tongue ties won't affect speech however since they are much simpler to treat when a baby is young, it may be better to have treatment if, for example, there is a family history of speech difficulties related to tongue tie.

How can we treat it?

Tongue ties can be treated with a procedure called frenulotomy where a medical assessment by a paediatric surgeon will be required and is a good opportunity for the parents to discuss other health concerns and feeding issues about their baby.


Treating a tongue tie by frenulotomy

A simple surgical technique is used to treat the tongue tie as an out-patient procedure. The frenulum is divided under aseptic conditions and with no anaesthetic or stitching required after the procedure. The baby can be put to the breast immediately after the operation. Not all babies with tongue tie need an operation, as they can be supported by a lactation counsellor or an infant feeding specialist to get their feeding positioning correct.

If this does not work then infant and mother should benefit by having the tongue tie divided.

Possible complications of frenulotomy

Tongue tie division is a generally safe and effective procedure which helps to protect and support breast feeding. However as with all surgical procedures there are some possible complications which include bleeding, infection and ulcer formation. Very rarely some babies require re-snipping.

Why do some doctors and midwives think tongue ties are not important?

Some doctors and professionals in the past believed that tongue tie did not cause any feeding difficulties, this is true only for the minority of babies and therefore the baby needs to be assessed by a specialist to confirm if baby’s feeding is impaired because of tongue tie.

Nowadays we aim to promote breastfeeding more than in the past, because of the health benefits to the baby and to the mother. Our knowledge on what makes babies breastfeed successfully has also increased. As a result there is more evidence that the presence of a tongue tie can interfere with feeding. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have stated that division of tongue tie may be beneficial and NICE have produced a parent information sheet to read.

The benefits of breast feeding

Breast fed babies are at reduced risk of tummy bugs (gastroenteritis), urine infections, respiratory infections, ear infections and other infections. This is because breast milk boosts an infant’s immune system during development.

Breast fed babies also stand less risk of developing allergic conditions like asthma and eczema. Whilst breast feeding does not completely prevent these conditions, their severity can be reduced.

Breast feeding can be beneficial to mothers too. It helps to increase maternal infant bonding, and reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as hip fractures (3). The World Health Organisation recommends breast feeding for the first six months of life because it is ideal nutrition for baby, it is readily available and at the correct temperature. Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health and UNICEF support baby led breastfeeding for all babies.

 Treatment decisions should not be based solely on the information in these pages and should always be discussed with your GP, midwife, infant feeding advisor or paediatrician.

Our tongue tie specialists

Bruce Richard, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, can assess whether a tongue tie is causing your baby’s feeding difficulties and perform division of the tongue tie, if required, during the same visit. It does not require any special after care and you can continue to breast feed. It is an outpatient procedure and does not require your baby to go to an operation theatre.

Joanna Hall, Paediatric Specialist Nurse, will make contact with you to discuss the treatment and can carry out a pre-assessment over the phone, alongside Mr Richard she will assist with the treatment and provide support and advice to families.


What if I don't have private health insurance?

You don't need to have private health insurance to be seen as you can book and pay for a private consultation directly. A single appointment is all that is usually required to examine and treat your baby's tongue tie.

To find out more information about the tongue tie or to book an appointment please fill out our online enquiry form or call 0121 704 5530.



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