Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure

Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure

What is a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and why is it done?

If you have an abnormal cervical cancer screening result, your health care provider may suggest that you have a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) as part of the evaluation and treatment. LEEP is a procedure that removes abnormal cells from the cervix using a thin wire loop with an electric current, which cuts away a thin layer of the cervix.

How is LEEP performed?

A LEEP should be done when you are not having your menstrual period to provide a better view of the cervix. In most cases, LEEP is done in a health care provider’s office and only takes a few minutes.

During the procedure, you will lie on your back and place your legs in stirrups. The health care provider will insert a speculum into your vagina, similar to a pelvic exam. Local anesthesia will be used to prevent pain. You may feel a slight sting, then a dull ache or cramp. The loop is then inserted into the vagina to reach the cervix. Different sizes and shapes of loops can be used. If you feel faint during the procedure, tell your health care provider immediately.

A special paste may be applied to your cervix to stop any bleeding after the procedure. Electrocautery may also be used to control bleeding. The tissue removed will be studied in a lab to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the risks of LEEP

The most common risk is heavy bleeding in the first three weeks after a LEEP. If you experience heavy bleeding, contact your health care provider.

LEEP has been associated with an increased risk of future pregnancy problems. Although most women have no issues, there is a small increase in the risk of premature births and having a low birth weight baby. In rare cases, the cervix may narrow after the procedure, causing problems with menstruation and potentially making it difficult to become pregnant.

What should I expect during recovery from LEEP?

After the procedure, you may experience:

  • A watery, pinkish discharge
  • Mild cramping
  • A brownish-black discharge

It will take a few weeks for your cervix to heal. While you are healing, do not place anything in your vagina, such as tampons or douches, and do not have intercourse until your health care provider says it is safe to do so.

Contact your health care provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bleeding with clots
  • Severe abdominal pain

Will I need follow-up visits?

You will need to see your health care provider following the procedure. You will have a cervical cancer screening to ensure that all abnormal cells are gone and have not returned. If you have another abnormal screening, you may require additional treatments.

How can I protect my cervix?

  • Having regular pelvic exams and cervical cancer screenings
  • Stopping smoking – smoking increases your risk of cancer
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners and using condoms
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