What is a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)?
A loop electrosurgical excision procedure, or LEEP, is performed to remove cells or tissues from the cervix or vagina using an electrically heated wire loop. This procedure can be performed to remove abnormal cells or to biopsy tissue to be tested in a lab.
When is a LEEP Necessary?
Your gynecologist may suggest a LEEP if they notice abnormal cells during a pelvic exam or Pap test. The procedure is used when several gynecological conditions are suspected or diagnosed. A LEEP may be used to diagnose or treat:
- Cervical cancer
- Genital warts / HPV
- Diethylstillbestrol (DES) exposure
The Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure
Before your LEEP, your gynecologist will use a speculum to expose the cervix as in a Pap test. They may then use a colposcope to view the tissues and locate the treatment area; a colposcope magnifies the tissues but does not entire the vagina through the procedure. It may also be necessary to apply a vinegar solution to the cervix to make any abnormal tissues more visible. This may cause a mild burning sensation that is somewhat uncomfortable but overall tolerable. Then, your gynecologist will numb the treatment area by a small injection. Finally, the LEEP wire is inserted and passed over the abnormal tissues to remove them. During this process, you may feel some pressure or cramping. Some patients feel faint during a LEEP, and it is important to tell your gynecologist or nurse if this occurs. When the LEEP is complete, the tissues are sent to a lab for further testing if necessary and you may return home.
Recovery After a LEEP
Some cramping and light spotting or bleeding are expected after a LEEP. You may notice dark-colored discharge. Choose sanitary pads for the first several days after a LEEP, as tampons are not recommended for about four weeks after the procedure. Your gynecologist will also advise you to avoid sexual intercourse through this time. For the first several days after a LEEP, over-the-counter pain medication is sufficient to alleviate any cramping or discomfort.
If you notice symptoms such as blood clots, foul-smelling discharge, fever, or severe pain, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible, as these can be signs of complication or infection.
After a LEEP, most patients will require more frequent Pap tests. Your gynecologist will explain the best care plan for you after your procedure.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a gynecologist in Manhattan, call Carnegie Women’s Health at (315) 628-7063. You may also contact us online.