What is Frenuloplasty?

Misty Wiser

A frenuloplasty is a surgical procedure that adjusts the frenulum to allow for unrestricted movement of the organ or muscle affected. The frenulum is a small piece of tissue found in the mouth, on the genitalia, and in the digestive tract. Frenulum tissue is designed to secure the mobility of the organ or muscle involved. When the frenulum is too small, it causes the movement to be restricted. Frenuloplasty can help clear up childhood speech problems, infant feeding difficulties, and relieve the pain of intercourse that some men experience.

A human mouth with the frenum shown as a pink vertical line connecting the tongue to the mouth.
A human mouth with the frenum shown as a pink vertical line connecting the tongue to the mouth.

The oral frenulums are connected under the tongue, between the upper and lower lips, and between the cheeks and the gums. The lingual frenulum can cause speech difficulties when it is too short, and it may interfere with the ability of a baby to suckle, causing nutritional deficits if left untreated. Frenuloplasty allows the tongue freedom of movement, allowing for easy suckling and eliminating speech problems later in childhood.

A man may undergo a frenuloplasty when intercourse becomes painful due to the restricted movement of the foreskin.
A man may undergo a frenuloplasty when intercourse becomes painful due to the restricted movement of the foreskin.

Newborn infants born with a tight lingual frenulum, called ankyloglossia, usually undergo a frenuloplasty within the first few days of life. Most infants under the age of four months do not require anesthesia prior to the procedure. During the operation, the tongue is lifted to expose the frenulum. Small scissors are used to clip a bit of the frenulum, and sutures are generally not necessary. The baby is returned to the mother and is able to suckle immediately.

A frenuloplasty is a surgical procedure that will adjust the frenulum in different areas of the body.
A frenuloplasty is a surgical procedure that will adjust the frenulum in different areas of the body.

Many men undergo a frenuloplasty when intercourse becomes painful due to the restricted movement of the foreskin. The frenulum tissue connects the foreskin to the vernal mucosa and aids in the retraction of the foreskin when the penis is erect. A frenuloplasty can correct this abnormal restriction of the foreskin while preventing the need for a circumcision.

When sutures are required, absorbable stitches are typically used during a frenuloplasty.
When sutures are required, absorbable stitches are typically used during a frenuloplasty.

The penile frenuloplasty is performed on an outpatient basis. The patient will be put under anesthesia before the procedure begins. The frenulum is carefully altered to enable enough movement for the comfortable retraction of the foreskin. The incision is small and is sewn together with absorbable sutures. Complications of the operation are not common, though there is a risk of excessive bleeding from the incision site.

Anesthesia will be utilized during a frenuloplasty.
Anesthesia will be utilized during a frenuloplasty.

Recovery from the penile frenuloplasty takes about six weeks. Regular activities can begin about three weeks after the procedure. The incision site will need to be washed carefully daily, and a small amount of moisturizing cream may be applied to the penis to help avoid the formation of thick scar tissue.

The incision site during a frenuloplasty should be kept clean in order to avoid infection.
The incision site during a frenuloplasty should be kept clean in order to avoid infection.
A shortened frenulum limits the tongue's range of motion.
A shortened frenulum limits the tongue's range of motion.
Newborns born with ankyloglossia usually undergo a frenuloplasty within the first few days of life.
Newborns born with ankyloglossia usually undergo a frenuloplasty within the first few days of life.

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Discussion Comments

Kat919

@ElizaBennett - Yep, that's the one. My La Leche League leader says she feels tongue tie is way more common than most people realize and is often misdiagnosed. Apparently it's more likely to cause problems with breastfeeding (bad latch) than with bottle feeding, so if it's not diagnosed and, if necessary, a frenuloplasty procedure done promptly, breastfeeding can fail altogether.

ElizaBennett

Is this what they call "tongue tie" in babies? I know a woman whose husband has such bad tongue tie, he can only stick his tongue out like half an inch!

Her kids both had tongue tie. She took them to a specialist for what I guess was frenuloplasty surgery, but she just called it getting "clipped." She said her son was nursing within minutes. They used local anesthetic for her two-year-old but I don't know if the newborn had anything.

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