LEEP Procedure to Treat Cervical Dysplasia

Women with persistent low-grade or high-grade cervical dysplasia may be recommended to have a procedure called a LEEP. A LEEP is commonly recommended for women whose cervical biopsy results show abnormal cells on the cervix that may progress into cervical cancer if left untreated.

Treatment table, female patient in background
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What is a LEEP?

LEEP is an acronym for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. A LEEP uses an electrically charged wire loop to remove abnormal cervical tissue. It is done under local anesthesia and normally on an outpatient basis in hospitals or in a doctor's office.

During a LEEP:

  • the doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina
  • an anesthetic is injected into the cervix to numb the area
  • the use of an electrically charged wire loop is used to remove abnormal tissue
  • a topical solution may be put on the cervix to stop any bleeding

A LEEP procedure is typically painless; however, mild cramping may be felt during the procedure. It takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

What to Expect After Having a LEEP

After a LEEP, you can expect mild cramping, dark vaginal discharge from the solution they put on your cervix after the procedure, and possible mild bleeding with discharge. Heavy lifting and exercise should be avoided for a period of time.

Women who undergo a LEEP are recommended to use sanitary napkins as opposed to tampons following the procedure. In fact, no sex, douching, tampons, or basically anything in the vagina is recommended for a certain amount of time. The doctor will advise you how long you should avoid these activities.

About two weeks after the procedure, the doctor will follow-up with an in-office appointment. The doctor will check your cervix to see how it has healed and make any further recommendations. This is an important appointment and should not be missed.

It is crucial to follow-up with recommended regular cervical exams. Cervical dysplasia can return even if treatment is complete. Regular cervical exams are the only way to monitor for abnormal cervical changes.

2 Sources
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  1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About your loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).
  2. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).

By Lisa Fayed
Lisa Fayed is a freelance medical writer, cancer educator and patient advocate.