A lingual frenectomy is the removal of a band of tissue (the lingual frenulum) connecting the underside of the tongue with the roof of the mouth.
While the procedure is usually safe, it can result in nerve damage, which can produce severe, permanent, untreatable pain.
The removal of the lingual frenulum under the tongue can be accomplished with either frenectomy or frenuloplasty. This is used to treat a tongue tied patient. It is rumored that, immediately after this minor oral surgery, the tongue can often dramatically extend out of the mouth which it could not before do. However the references here measure the difference in "millimeters" and it may actually shorten the tongue, depending on the procedure and aftercare. If your lingual frenulum, at full extension of your tongue, isn't tense against your two front bottom teeth, there is little chance for any extension by its removal.
Domenico Maceri claims that some South Korean parents have their children undergo frenectomy "which lengthens the tongue by about one millimeter" in the belief they will pronounce English better. Critics regard the surgery as unnecessary, as Koreans born in the United States have no trouble distinctly pronouncing /r/ and /l/. The process has also been used in reverse to aid native English speakers communicate with a native accent. In 2011, Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones made headlines by obtaining a lingual frenectomy to aid her in speaking the Korean language without the inhibition of an accent.
Frenulectomy is commonly used on newborn infants in the United States and other countries to make breast-feeding more successful and more comfortable.
This operation is becoming increasingly more common as a voluntary procedure, as anyone wishing to have a tongue piercing, but who has a frenulum that comes too far forward is typically unable to have the piercing. The frenulectomy allows the piercing to be possible.
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- "Student obsessed with Korean culture has tongue surgically lengthened on NHS to help her speak the language". Daily Mail. 15 August 2011.
- Olivi, G; Signore, A; Olivi, M; Genovese, MD (2012). "Lingual frenectomy: Functional evaluation and new therapeutical approach" (PDF). European journal of paediatric dentistry : official journal of European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry 13 (2): 101–6. PMID 22762170.
- Marceri, Domenico (2005). "English in France? Mais Oui!". Seoul Times. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- Demick, Barbara (2002-04-08). "A snip of the tongue and English is yours!". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2006-12-10. "doctors say the procedure's popularity has soared ... tongue surgery, which critics say is unnecessary ... Linguists sneer at the idea that South Koreans' tongues are too short to speak English properly ... operation lengthens the tongue by only a millimeter or two"
- Geddes, DT; Langton, DB; Gollow, I; Jacobs, LA; Hartmann, PE; Simmer, K (2008). "Frenulotomy for breastfeeding infants with ankyloglossia: Effect on milk removal and sucking mechanism as imaged by ultrasound". Pediatrics 122 (1): e188–94. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2553. PMID 18573859.