LOOP ELECTROSURGICAL EXCISION PROCEDURE (LEEP)

If you have a highly abnormal Pap test result, we will suggest that you have a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), which can further evaluate AND remove the abnormal cell tissue.

What is an abnormal Pap test result?

  • The cervix — the opening of the uterus at the top of the vagina — is covered by a thin layer of cells.
  • As these cells develop, the cells at the bottom layer slowly move to the surface of the cervix.
  • Some cells become abnormal or damaged during this process and need to be removed to prevent cancer.
  • The Pap test checks for these abnormal cell changes.
  • Our physicians personally review EVERY PAP Smear performed on our patients

The follow-up that you receive after an abnormal Pap test result depends on your age and the type of result.

We will discuss follow-up and treatment options with you.

There are several methods of removing abnormal cells from the cervix, including cryosurgery, laser treatment, cone biopsy and LEEP. The method used will depend on how much cervical tissue needs to be removed and where on the cervix the abnormal cells are located.

LEEP uses a thin wire loop that acts like a scalpel (surgical knife).

  • During the procedure, you will lie on your back with your legs placed in the stirrups.
  • The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina, as for a pelvic exam,
  • The loop is then inserted through the vagina into the cervix. Different loop sizes and shapes can be used, depending on the size of the lesion.
  • An electric current is passed through the loop, which cuts away a thin layer of the cervix.
  • At the end of the procedure, a special paste may be applied to your cervix to stop any bleeding.
  • Electrocautery, a procedure that uses a metal cauterizing instrument heated by electricity to destroy tissue, may also be used to control bleeding.
  • The tissue that is removed will be studied in a lab to confirm the diagnosis.

The procedure should be done when you are NOT having your menstrual period.

In most cases, it only takes a few minutes and is performed at an outpatient surgery center.

Risks

Heavy bleeding is the most common risk in the first three weeks after a LEEP. If you experience heavy bleeding, contact your doctor. You may need to have more of the paste applied to the cervix to stop it.

LEEP has been associated with an increased risk of future pregnancy problems. Although most women have no problems, there is a small increase in the risk of having premature delivery. In rare cases, the cervix narrows after the procedure, causing problems with menstruation and making it difficult to become pregnant.

Your Recovery

After the procedure, you may have:

  • Watery, pinkish discharge
  • Mild cramping
  • Brownish-black discharge (from the paste)

It will take a few weeks for your cervix to heal. While your cervix heals, you should not have intercourse or place anything in the vagina, such as tampons or douches. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to do so.

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following problems:

  • Heavy bleeding (more than your normal period)
  • Bleeding with clots
  • Severe abdominal pain

Staying Healthy

During your follow-up visits, your doctor conduct Pap tests to be sure that all of the abnormal cells are gone and that they have not returned. In most cases, your doctor will suggest a Pap test at certain intervals depending on the severity of the condition. If you have another abnormal Pap test result, you may need more treatment.

You can help protect the health of your cervix by following these guidelines:

  • Have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests.
  • Stop smoking — smoking increases your risk of cervical cancer.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners and use condoms to reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
To further evaluate abnormal biopsies found during colposcopy (PDF)
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