The puzzle of Tongue/Lip-Tie release 

After the diagnosis of a tongue and or lip tie it is really important to arm yourself with information and be prepared for the recovery journey.

Tongue/lip tie revisions are usually not a magical elixir that once the revision is performed – that’s it. Sometimes the first feed after revision does feel like magic as the baby suddenly has normal movement, however there is a recovery journey to be had and a process for both yourself and your baby.

Different factors such as the age of your baby, severity of the restriction caused by the ties and the impact of the ties on oral function will all determine how long a baby will take to recover from a release procedure.

I like to describe the recovery journey as needing a few different pieces of a puzzle to achieve optimal results from a tongue and or lip tie release.

So what are the puzzle pieces?

1. Having a complete revision 

To enable a return of normal oral function, a tie needs to be released by a practitioner who has a good understanding of tethered oral tissue and who understands there is a posterior component to all tongue ties. Just releasing the anterior portion rarely allows for full return to normal function.

2. Receiving craniosacral therapy

When a baby/toddler/child has tethered oral tissue they learn to suck/swallow/breathe in an abnormal pattern. Babies learn to suck in utero and continue their learning from birth and from their first breastfeeding.

When a baby has their ties released, they then need to re-learn how to use their tongue correctly. With this new found tongue motion – comes new muscles that have never been used before.

Think about if you suddenly ran a half-marathon tomorrow without any training. You would be ok tomorrow, however the days following you would have sore muscles as you have suddenly exerted muscles that you haven’t used before or recently.

The same process occurs after the release of tethered oral tissue. For this reason, working closely with a practitioner who is familiar with both craniosacral therapy and tongue/lip tie recovery is essential.

Having a couple of sessions of craniosacral therapy prior to revision is ideal to release any tension prior to revision as well.

3. Pain management

As discussed in point 2 – most babies do have some form of discomfort post procedure. This usually begins 24-48 hours after the release and lasts for two to three days. For most babies – days 2-5 are considered the hardest part. This is because there is discomfort associated with the new muscle function while learning normal oral function.

Understanding these discomforts and the associated recovery period and providing adequate pain relief is a vital step. There are some excellent natural remedies to aid your baby’s discomfort. Lots of skin to skin, deep baths and extra cuddles also go a long way.

4. Active wound management

To achieve optimal results of a tie revision, it is important to ensure the wound/s heal correctly. The mouth is an amazing part of the body that heals incredibly quickly – sometimes too quickly.

You can read more about active wound management here.

It is really important to follow the instructions given to you by your revision provider.

5. Working closely with an IBCLC

Working closely with an IBCLC who is familiar with ties is also another important step to complete the puzzle.

When a mother has been breastfeeding a baby with tethered oral tissue – their baby has not been feeding effectively and therefore some latch techniques and Mum’s milk production may need a little help.

Particular attention needs to be paid to helping your baby learn new latch techniques, learn sucking exercises to strengthen the underdeveloped muscles of the tongue and support for Mum’s to maintain adequate milk production.

The journey of tongue tie recovery is just like you would expect with any other procedure. Often two steps forward and one step back until your baby has gained full oral function.

It is really important to take all the necessary steps to ensure full function has been gained.

Tamika Newman IBCLC


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