What is a LEEP procedure?

A LEEP procedure, also known as a loop electrosurgical excision, is a treatment that prevents cervical cancer. During the procedure, a small electrical loop removes any abnormal cells from the cervix. LEEP surgery may be a treatment option if your doctor finds abnormal cells during a Pap test, colposcopy or biopsy.

Who is a candidate for LEEP?

LEEP may be used to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of the following conditions:

  • Determine the cause of an abnormal Pap smear
  • Diagnose cervical cancer or any precancerous changes in the cervix
  • Treat precancerous conditions of the cervix
  • Treat carcinoma in situ in the cervix

Your Mercy Health doctor will evaluate your case to determine if you are a candidate for LEEP.

What are the risks of a LEEP?

Common complications associated with LEEP include:

  • Dark brown discharge from the vagina for a week after the procedure
  • Spotting small amounts of blood for three weeks after the procedure
  • Menstrual-like cramping

In rare cases, you may experience:

  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Pain that does not respond to pain medication
  • Fever, foul-smelling or yellowish vaginal discharge or other signs of infection
  • Premature delivery if you get pregnant after the procedure
  • Trouble getting pregnant

What to expect during a LEEP?

In preparation for the LEEP procedure, you will lie on an exam table with your legs in stirrups. When in position, your doctor will follow the steps:

  • Insert a speculum into your vagina and will use colposcopy to visualize the abnormal area
  • Position an electrical wire loop at the cervix to remove the abnormal cells
  • Seal blood vessels in the area to prevent bleeding
  • Cells are sent to the lab for testing

The entire procedure takes approximately 10 minutes.

Recovery from a LEEP

In most patients LEEP removes all abnormal cervical cells. If the procedure does not remove all the abnormal cells, you may need to have LEEP again or have a different treatment.

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