After a woman has an abnormal pelvic exam or pap smear, a gynecologist may recommend a loop electrosurgical excision procedure usually referred to as a LEEP. LEEP uses a wire loop heated by electric current to remove abnormal cells and tissue in the cervix and vagina. It is used for diagnosis as well as treatment of abnormal or cancerous conditions, as well as to treat polyps or genital warts.
When used for diagnoses, LEEP removes a thin layer of tissue so it can be sent to a lab for testing. When used for treatment, LEEP is used to remove abnormal cells so healthy tissue can grow. It can be done in a hospital or at an outpatient clinic.
Things to Consider
If you are considering a LEEP procedure, your gynecologist will explain it, so you can ask questions and know what to expect. Usually no special preparation is needed prior to a LEEP, although you will be asked to refrain from vaginal sex as well as using tampons or inserting anything into your vagina the day before the procedure.
During the Procedure
LEEP procedures may vary slightly depending on your gynecologist’s practices, but generally follows this process:
- Your gynecologist will insert a speculum into your vagina to so they can view your cervix. They might also use an instrument called a colposcope, which has a light and magnification, in order to see the area better. Another tool may be used to hold the cervix steady for the procedure.
- Your gynecologist will clean the area and then numb it with an injection.
- Your gynecologist then begins to remove the abnormal tissue and removes the instruments when they are done.
- Because the electrical current from LEEP seals the blood vessels, there is usually very little bleeding.
After the Procedure
After LEEP, your gynecologist will allow you to rest for as long as you need to before going home. However, typically most women feel ready to go home a few minutes after the procedure is complete. Additionally, you should be able to drive yourself home, however, you may prefer to have a friend or family member take you home.