Treating a Tongue or Lip Tie

Benefits of treatment    

If a tight, thin, frenulum under the tongue is affecting feeding, then treatment earlier rather than later is recommended.

Upper lip ties are normal and in almost every case, do not cause breastfeeding issues, therefore, treatment is not recommended.

Releasing a true tongue-tie or tight frenulum has been shown to:

  • Decrease nipple pain
  • Improve babies latch
  • Enable baby to transfer milk more effectively
  • Improve weight gain, sleep patterns
  • Enable babies to be more settled, less windy
  • Lower the occurrence of blocked ducts and mastitis
  • Improve overall feelings about breastfeeding

Untreated Tongue ties can been associated with the following long term consequences depending on the severity of the tie:

  • Nutritional problems, inadequate weight gain or failure to thrive
  • Reflux
  • Excessive gagging
  • Speech problems: Severe ties can affect speech. Certain sounds are difficult to make if the tongue can’t move freely (especially ‘th’, ‘s’, ‘d’, ‘l’, and ‘t’).
  • Dental caries: Back molar caries have been associated with tongue-ties.
  • Self-confidence issues: Tongue-tie may also make it hard for a child to lick an ice cream cone, stick out his tongue, play a wind instrument, or French kiss.


If you are a parent in Tairawhiti, your lactation Consultant will be able to discuss the treatment options available to you depending on the age of your baby and the type of tie that is present. 

If it is determined that the tie requires treatment, there is a simple procedure called a “frenotomy” that can quickly correct the problem. The procedure is relatively painless and takes a few seconds. The treatment provider will use sterile scissors or laser to quickly separate the frenulum. Sterile gauze will be applied for a few seconds after a scissor release to slow the bleeding and baby can be put on the breast immediately following the procedure.

Anaesthetic and stitches are not necessary. Some treatment providers with use a gel anaesthic and possibly further local anaesthetic if babies are older than a few weeks. The baby cries more because he is being restrained for a few seconds than he does because of pain. Comparing the procedure to ear piercing is a good analogy. In most cases, the mother notices an immediate improvement in both her comfort level and the baby’s ability to feed more efficiently.

Video of a frenotomy done with scissors: