LEEP, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, may be done following receipt of an abnormal cervical cancer screening result. It is used to treat moderate to severe dysplasia, or precancer, of the cervix and may serve as a diagnostic tool for other gynecological conditions.
What is LEEP?
LEEP uses a thin wire loop that carries a low-voltage electrical current to remove abnormal cells from the cervix and vagina. The loop acts as a scalpel, removing a thin layer of the abnormal tissue. When done for diagnostic purposes, the procedure preserves the tissue sample for analysis.
LEEP is typically performed under local anesthesia in a gynecologist’s office. The patient is placed in stirrups and a speculum is used to support the vaginal walls during the procedure.
An acidic solution may be applied to the suspicious areas to make them more visible. Once the area has been anesthetized, the loop instrument is inserted into the vagina to the cervix. The low-voltage electrical current is delivered to the abnormal tissue area or areas.
Following LEEP, a topical paste is applied to the cervix to stop any bleeding that may be present.
Why LEEP is Done
LEEP may be performed as a diagnostic procedure or a treatment. The procedure can be helpful for diagnosing and treating non-cancerous polyps, genital warts or cervical changes such as dysplasia or cancer.
It is normal to experience a watery, pink-tinged discharge after the procedure. Some patients also complain of mild cramping or soreness.
Dark or black discharge (wet coffee ground-like) may been seen for a few days following LEEP. This is due to the paste used to stop the bleeding.
Heavy bleeding with or without clots, foul smelling discharge and severe abdominal pain are NOT normal after LEEP and should be reported to your OBGYN immediately.