Tongue frenulum (web) removal

Cut 1 - January 1997

When I had my tongue pierced, the piercing had to be angled a bit because I have an oversized tongue web (the tissue that connects the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth). Although my piercer told me I'd never notice the bottom ball was offset from my tongue web, it became quite noticeable about two weeks after my tongue had completely healed. My web was getting a bit sore, and I couldn't move the balls much past my teeth because my web was holding my tongue back. Extremely annoying situation.

Piercing places around town told me they can't actually cut tissue since it falls under surgery. Oral surgeons charge far too much money to do this relatively simple procedure. After a bit of researching, I found a person willing to do it for me. Right before the procedure, he told me I wouldn't feel a thing. Isn't that what they all say? Anyway, he lifted my tongue, and grabbed my tongue web with a hemostat, and then locked the hemostat. I figured this would be very uncomfortable, but it wasn't. Surprise! He then started cutting the web with a surgical razor just above the hemostat, where it joined with my tongue. I cringed, thinking it was going to hurt: He was moving in a sawing motion that anyone would think to be extremely painful. But it didn't hurt. He proceeded to do a similar cut below the hemostat, but was sure to cut above where saliva is released. This cut didn't hurt at all either. The final cut involved joining the two previous incisions, as they didn't meet properly. I think he cut a bit too much the third time, as this cut hurt. I probably made it worse by pulling my tongue back a bit while the hemostat was attached to it. It was a very sharp pain, the kind one would expect when getting cut under the tongue. When he finished, I eagerly headed to the mirror. There was blood everywhere. I was bleeding a lot. It was pouring out of mouth. He gave me a cup of cold water to drink. I must say, having water touch my tongue was the most painful part of the entire removal experience. I spit out the water, and it was as red as the blood itself. I was still bleeding a lot.

About 5 minutes later, the blood on my lips began to dry. My teeth and mouth were still covered with blood. I attempted to clean up my face, and rinsed, this time with Listerine. The Listerine hurt a lot worse than the water from before. By this point, I had stopped bleeding. The cut was a bit irritating, and the lower ball from the bar in my tongue banging against it wasn't helping. I was able to eat fairly normally as the bottom of my tongue generally isn't used for chewing. I was much more careful with drinks though, which often get under my tongue. I continued to use Listerine for about two days, and it hurt the whole time. After those first two days, the pain disappeared. For the first day, I made a point of not moving my tongue. Days two through five, I tried sticking it out a lot to see how much of a difference the web removal had made. It still hadn't completely healed, so I couldn't pull it out very far.

Six days after it was removed, I was able to extend my tongue all the way to my labret spike, without any problems. My labret is about an inch outside my mouth, and about an inch down. Stretching it too much still hurt a bit. It was definitely not still completely healed. During days two through five, if I really extended my tongue, I'd experience a tingly sensation, and loss of feeling at the tip of my tongue. Upon retraction of the tongue, the tingle went away and I regained feeling. On the sixth day, all pain, tingling, and "loss of feeling" disappeared.

Cut 2 - August, 1998

Over a year and a half later, I noticed that my tongue web had started to grow back, and that the discomfort associated with the offset tongue piercing was returning. I spoke with Steve Haworth about it and he offered me advice on how to keep it from re-growing in the future, should I have it re-cut. He advised keeping a roll of gauze under the tongue while it healed, so the tissue would not want to re-attach to itself. He also offered to do the second cut. Since I was getting other stuff done by him, I figured a tiny little snip wouldn't be a big deal.

We quickly got started, since it was getting late. He clamped down with triangular forceps, similar to those used on tongue (and other) piercings. This time, the clamping actually stung a bit. I attribute this to the fact that triangular forceps end up "grabbing" quite a bit more area than hemostats do. It took a few clamps to lock down the correct position. It was rather uncomfortable to have my mouth wide open while this was happening.

mouth wide open

The cut was much more painful than the first time, as this time, because of the forceps, a larger area was going to be cut. I rinsed with Listerine soon afterwards, and, just as I expected, it was the most painful part of the second cutting experience. Blood thankfully stopped pouring out of my mouth after about 5 minutes, almost instantly after I rinsed with Listerine.

One thing that I was sad about the first time is that my tongue web was thrown in the trash can. This time, I was sure to get it back, so I could eat it. It was really small, smaller than a dime, or maybe dime-sized if it was stretched out. Regardless, it was very tiny, definitely smaller than a small chunk of meat someone would eat at dinner. I tried to chew it, but it wouldn't work. Biting it with my front teeth was futile as well. It was basically very very tough meat. I don't recall what it tasted like, since my mouth was covered in blood, and blood was the only thing I could taste. I can say that it looked like a piece of boneless raw chicken.

The first few nights after I got it done, my tongue was so sore that I couldn't really move it inside my mouth. The 4ga bar, with dime sized balls, through my tongue, just made things a lot worse. It weighed down my tongue, and exerted more force on the cut area. The worst was the bottom ball of the bar, which pressed noticeably hard against the open wound. I tried to keep the bottom ball off the wound by keeping it in front of my teeth, but then I couldn't talk very well.

At night, I rolled up a piece of gauze and placed it under my tongue, behind my bar. In the mornings, the gauze sticks to the cut. It sucks to get out, but hot liquids will loosen it enough to pull out with minimal pain. After 5 days, it barely hurt, but was still a pretty open wound. At 7 days, most of it had healed. Again, I only felt pain when I extended my tongue really far. Soon thereafter, after about two weeks, it was completely healed. I did notice that I was able to stretch my tongue out much further than before I had it done, although not quite as far as after my first cut.


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