Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
What is a LEEP procedure?
LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. It's a procedure done in the doctor's office after you receive an abnormal pap smear. Most abnormal pap smears are caused by the HPV virus which many women are exposed to throughout their life. Many of these changes will resolve on their own, but sometimes they can progress to precancerous changes which need to be treated. Usually an abnormal pap smear is followed up and confirmed by a colposcopy in the office. When the abnormal findings are confirmed -- it can be treated with the LEEP procedure.
What should I expect?
The procedure is done in the physician's office and takes about 20 minutes. It's similar to a pelvic exam. A thin wire loop is used to remove the affected tissue. The tissue is sent to the lab for further testing. A colposcopy is often done at the same time or prior to the procedure to help identify the abnormal areas.
What are the risks of the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure?
Complications are minor and may include minor bleeding and cramping. You should report any heavy bleeding to your doctor immediately. Taking an over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen before the procedure can help alleviate any cramping. Your physician will instruct you to avoid things like taking baths, intercourse, and tampons for up to six weeks.
What is the follow up for a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure?
Your physician will require a follow up Pap smear in six months to make sure abnormal cervical cells don't redevelop. Remember early detection is key.