LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. It is an in-office procedure where an electrical wire loop is used to excise abnormal tissue from the cervix. This is done under local anesthesia and takes several minutes to perform once the procedure begins. It usually causes very little discomfort. It is indicated when there are significant atypical cells detected either through a Pap smear alone or through colposcopy biopsy. The tissue removed is sent to pathology where microscopic slides are made and the abnormal tissue better studied. Most of the time this removes the abnormal tissue and no further treatment is needed other than follow up Pap smears to make sure there is no recurrence of the atypical cells. Occasionally, further treatment may be needed depending on the results of the LEEP biopsy and your doctor will certainly review this with you.
After the procedure you will be able to drive yourself home or return to work. You may experience some mild cramping but should not have significant discomfort. We do ask you to abstain from strenuous exercise for one to 2 weeks until you are no longer having cramping. We asked you to abstain from intercourse or use of tampons for 2 weeks. Your doctor will review specific recommendations with you at the time of the procedure.
The risks from the procedure include bleeding, infection, and damage to surrounding tissues during the procedure such as vagina, bladder and rectum. These are very uncommon. There are some recent studies that show a slightly higher risk of preterm delivery following any treatment of the cervix where cervical tissue is removed or destroyed. The risk of this is very low and your doctor has weighed this against the risk of your atypical cells progressing to cancer if untreated.
If you have any questions whatsoever please ask your doctor before proceeding with the procedure.
For further information refer to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists webpage.