Overview

Loop Electrosurgical excision procedure, known as a LEEP, is a surgical procedure which removes abnormal tissue on the cervix using an electrically charged wire loop. This may be recommended to diagnose or treat certain conditions. When used as treatment, this method of surgical excision has a 90% cure rate however the procedure may need to be repeated or another form of treatment may be recommended in certain situations.

Procedure

A LEEP is a short procedure lasting approximately 10 minutes which generally completed in your healthcare providers office using a colposcope. During this procedure, you will be in the position you are during your normal GYN exam and a speculum will be inserted into the vagina to visualize the cervix. Once visualized, a numbing medicine is injected into the cervix for pain control and a liquid vinegar-like solution is applied to the cervix so the abnormal cells become more easily visualized. The electric loop is then used to remove the abnormal area and is sent to for evaluation. Blood vessels are sealed and a paste called Monsel’s Solution is also at times used to prevent additional bleeding following the procedure. At times electrocautery maybe necessary to stop bleeding. The procedure is generally not painful other than some mild cramping and/or discomfort. If you feel faint during the procedure, let your healthcare provider know right away. 


Procedure Risks

As with any surgical procedure there are risks associated with a LEEP procedure however they are rare and include damage to surrounding pelvic organs or the vaginal wall, bleeding, infection and/or a reaction to the anesthesia used during the procedure. Having a LEEP may also place you at a higher risk of future pre-term delivery. Additionally, you may also be at risk for having a lower birth weight baby. If the cervical opening narrows following the procedure, you may experience problems with menstruation and future fertility.

Please discuss your individual risks with your healthcare provider.

Recovery

Following a LEEP, you can expect some watery/pink discharge, mild cramping, and from the solution used to control bleeding a brown/black vaginal discharge. Because your cervix will take some time to heal, nothing should be inserted into your vagina and you should avoid sexual intercourse until your healthcare provider reports that it safe.

Notify your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, chills, foul smelling vaginal discharge, heavy bleeding and/or bleeding with clots following your LEEP.

Sources:

  1. LEEP at a Glance. Planned Parenthood. Accessed on March 21, 2015
  2. Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). ACOG. Accessed March 21, 2015
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