Misguided Medical Practices: Unnecessary Tongue Surgeries on Infants for Breastfeeding Ease Result in Lifelong Deformities

A concerning trend has emerged across the United States, with doctors reportedly rushing families into unnecessary surgeries for infants diagnosed with tongue tie. This procedure, known as “tongue tie surgery,” involves using a laser to remove excess tissue under the tongue or the webbing that connects the lips and cheeks. While initially intended for infants with genuine feeding difficulties due to tongue tie, the procedure has become increasingly prevalent, despite evidence suggesting that many infants improve without surgical intervention.

The number of tongue tie surgeries performed has skyrocketed by a staggering 800 percent between 1997 and 2012, rising from approximately 1,280 procedures to over 12,000. This surge in surgeries has raised eyebrows, especially considering that around 60 percent of infants naturally improve without the need for surgery. Critics argue that the increase in procedures is driven by financial motives, with doctors and breastfeeding consultants allegedly profiting millions of dollars annually.

Idaho-based lactation consultant Melanie Henstrom has voiced concerns after receiving complaints from families whose babies underwent tongue tie surgery but experienced difficulties breastfeeding and transitioning to solid foods, leading to severe malnourishment. Dentists, who often perform the procedure, utilize lasers to cut through the excess tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Despite the purported benefits of the surgery, some doctors have criticized it as a money-making scheme, with minimal government oversight contributing to the lack of regulation. Tongue tie, characterized by a short, thick, or tight band of tissue beneath the tongue, can impede normal feeding and speech development. However, critics argue that the surge in surgeries may be driven more by financial incentives than genuine medical necessity.

The resurgence of breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding has contributed to the growing popularity of tongue tie surgeries. With a growing belief among women that breastfeeding provides natural, healthier nutrition for infants, the demand for such procedures has increased. However, the controversy surrounding the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of tongue tie highlights the need for greater scrutiny and caution in recommending surgical interventions for infants.

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