LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure)
A LEEP is a treatment that removes abnormal cervical cells in order to prevent them from becoming cancerous (malignant). It is a simple and effective way to treat cervical dysplasia. A LEEP is usually performed after an abnormal pap smear with a subsequent abnormal Colposcopy.
Setting up the colposcope in preparation for LEEP
The LEEP requires the use of a colposcope to magnify the cervix for removal of the abnormal cells. Once a speculum is placed in the vagina, the provider will view the cervix via the colposcope, and use an anesthetic on the cervix to numb in it in preparation for the LEEP. You will remain awake and may feel a dull ache or cramping in your cervical region. Once the cervix is numb, the provider will cut away a thin layer of the surface cervical cells (removing the abnormal section) using a thin wire loop through which passes an electrical current. There are different shapes and sizes of loops that the provider can use for the LEEP.
After the Procedure
After the procedure is complete (it only takes a few minutes), the provider may apply a paste to the cervix to stop any cervical bleeding. The tissue (cervical cells) that the provider removed will be analyzed in a lab to confirm the diagnosis. The most common side effects of a LEEP are vaginal bleeding (less than your normal menstrual period), mild cramping, and a brownish-black discharge (from the paste applied to your cervix). There is also a risk of infection, although this is much rarer than the above side effects.
If you have any of the following symptoms contact your provider immediately:
- Heavy bleeding (more than your normal menstrual period)
- Bleeding with clots
- Severe abdominal/pelvic pain
- (greater than 100.4°F) and/or
After your LEEP you will need to refrain from having sex, douching, using tampons, or placing anything in your vagina for a few weeks. Your provider will discuss with you when it will be safe for you to have sex. You will continue to have follow up visits and pap smears after the LEEP procedure to monitor for development of more abnormal cervical cells. Having regular pelvic exams and pap smears, stopping smoking, limiting your number of sexual partners, and wearing condoms are all ways to help protect your cervical health.