Tongue-Lip Adhesion

For more than 20 years, the airway and sleep disorders team at Yale has been helping children with craniofacial disorders by providing coordinated management and comprehensive care. All of our team members have a special interest in helping children and their families.

We know your child is the most precious person in your life, and having him or her undergo treatment for a craniofacial birth defect can be overwhelming. Surgery can be frightening for both you and your child. Unfortunately, when a child is born with Pierre Robin Sequence, micrognathia, microretrognathia, glossoptosis, and other causes of micrognathia and airway obstruction, it can be difficult for the child to breathe and feed due to a cleft palate. These problems are caused by the tongue being positioned too far back in the mouth because the lower jaw is small. A tongue-lip adhesion is a procedure to open the airway by temporarily sewing the tongue to the bottom lip in infants. In mild to moderate cases, a tongue-lip adhesion is a successful way to keep the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway.

Once your child’s cleft palate is repaired, which is generally around nine months old, the tongue and lip can be detached.

In situations where airway obstruction is more severe, the lower jaw might need to be brought forward, or elongated, using a procedure called distraction osteogenesis. Distraction entails placing a device that is turned to “grow” the jaw forward one millimeter per day. It is then removed within several months.

We will most likely follow your child with sleep studies in order to manage and gauge the success of his or her surgery.

Our ultimate goal is to avoid a tracheostomy; however, one might be required if the lower airway is obstructed as well. 

Throughout the treatment process, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will provide your child with superlative medical and supportive care.