A tongue that has been completely severed does not grow back at all on its own; however, a tongue that has received severe lacerations, if it receives proper treatment, has the ability to recover rapidly. The amount of time recovery takes depends on the extent of the injury. In at least one instance, a tongue severed in an accident was successfully reattached in a patient's mouth.
Tongue lacerations can take place as a result of accidents, seizures, or piercings. Small cuts and abrasions heal without the need for sutures. In the case of gaping wounds, large flaps or excessive bleeding, an anesthetic and a number of sutures may be required to close up the wound so that it heals properly. Afterward, soft foods must be consumed for a time, and disinfecting mouthwashes prevent infection.
One instance of successfully reattaching a tongue occurred when a 16-year-old boy had his tongue completely severed in an automobile accident. His father found the tongue in the damaged car, and ambulance workers placed it in a bag of ice. The operation involved reattaching the tongue's major artery and numerous smaller veins. A segment of vein from the boy's foot had to replace damaged blood vessels in the tongue.