What is a LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure)?
LEEP is an abbreviation for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. It is a way to test and treat abnormal cell growth on the surface tissue of the cervix. LEEP may be recommended after abnormal changes in the cervix are confirmed by Pap tests and colposcopy biopsies. Colposcopy is a non-invasive procedure in which a device similar to a microscope is used to view the cervix. LEEP allows your physician to remove the abnormal tissue and test it for cancer.
Frontal view of cervix – The electrosurgical loop removes a thin layer of surface cells from the cervix
Abnormal cell growth on the surface of the cervix is called cervical dysplasia. Though cervical dysplasia is not cancer, over time it can worsen and lead to cancer if left untreated.
Is LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) safe?
Yes. LEEP is very safe. Complications are rare and the procedure can be completed without use of general anaesthesia. However, there are some risks, such as infection and bleeding. Also, if a large area needs to be removed, or if there is need for multiple LEEP procedures, a doctor will check your cervix by ultrasound during any subsequent pregnancies. Sometimes the cervix is weakened by these procedures, leading to early delivery of a baby. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor.
What can I expect when recovering at home after LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure)?
• Vaginal drainage or spotting is normal for one to three weeks following the procedure. The medication paste will produce a greenish-yellow discharge immediately after the procedure which may have a mild odour. A brownish-black vaginal discharge is also normal.
• Pads may be used for discharge. You should avoid placing anything in the vagina for four weeks, including tampons.
• Your menstrual cycle will not be disrupted by this procedure.
• Avoid excessive activity for 48 hours after the procedure. Refrain from exercising for at least one week. You can begin exercising again in one to two weeks. Stop exercising if bleeding other than normal menstruation occurs. If excessive bleeding occurs after you resume normal activities, call your physician.
• Abstain from sexual intercourse for four weeks.
• Showers are allowed.
How do I relieve discomfort after LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure)?
During your recovery, you may experience vaginal bleeding and mild cramping. To relieve abdominal cramping, take a non-aspirin, over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®).