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Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) for Abnormal Cervical Cell Changes

Surgery Overview

A loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) removes tissue from the cervix. You may have this done if you've had a Pap test that shows tissue that isn't normal.

During LEEP, your doctor will put a tool called a speculum into your vagina. It gently spreads apart the sides of your vagina. This lets your doctor see the cervix and inside the vagina. A special fluid is sometimes put on your cervix to make certain areas easier to see.

You may get a shot of medicine to numb the cervix. You may feel a cramp when you have the shot. You may also get pain medicine.

Your doctor will put a device with a fine wire loop into your vagina. The doctor uses the heated wire to cut out tissue.

You may have mild cramps for several hours after LEEP. A dark brown discharge during the first week is normal. You may have some spotting for about 3 weeks.

LEEP is done in a doctor's office, a clinic, or a hospital. It takes only a few minutes. You can go home after the procedure.

You should be able to go back to your normal routine in 1 to 3 days. How long it takes you to recover will depend on how much was done.

What To Expect

You will be able to return to most of your normal activities in 1 to 3 days.

If you have LEEP, you will need to have a Pap test every 4 to 6 months or as often as your doctor says. After your results are normal a few times, you and your doctor can decide how often to schedule future Pap tests.

You may have:

  • Mild cramping for a few hours after the procedure.
  • A dark brown vaginal discharge during the first week.
  • Vaginal discharge or spotting for about 3 weeks.

You will need to avoid sexual intercourse, tampons, and douching for about 3 weeks.

Why It Is Done

LEEP may be used to treat cell changes on the cervix. It can also help to diagnose abnormal cells. The tissue that is removed during LEEP can be checked for abnormal cell changes or cancer.

Learn more

How Well It Works

LEEP works very well to treat abnormal cell changes on the cervix.

If all of the abnormal tissue is removed, you won't need more surgery. In some studies, doctors were able to remove all the abnormal cells in almost every case. But abnormal cells may come back in the future.

Risks

Most people don't have problems after LEEP. If you get pregnant after having LEEP, you may be more likely to deliver your baby early.

Rare problems include infection of the cervix or uterus and narrowing of the cervix that might make it hard to get pregnant.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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