LEEP — loop electrosurgical excision procedure—is a procedure that removes abnormal or pre-cancerous cells from the surface of the cervix. These cells will be examined for cancer or, if it’s determined that cancer is already present, a LEEP may be used to remove the cancerous tissues. This procedure may also be called a conization, as a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue is removed for examination.
When is a LEEP procedure needed?
Any woman who has had a significantly abnormal Pap smear or has had evidence of precancerous cells may be considered for a LEEP. It’s also important in the diagnosis and treatment of:
- Genital warts
- Cervical growths (to determine if they are benign or malignant)
- Cervical cancer (Johns Hopkins University)
What happens during a LEEP procedure?
If you have an abnormal Pap smear, we may need to perform a LEEP procedure, depending upon your individual case. During this treatment, we first apply a solution to your cervix that makes the abnormal cells easily visible. We use a colposcope to obtain a magnified view of your cervix. Then your cervix is numbed using a local anesthesia before an electrically charged thin, wire loop is passed across the cervix, removing surface tissue and abnormal cells. After the procedure, we apply a medicated paste to prevent bleeding.
The procedure itself usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes, and you can go home after the procedure has been completed. Because only local anesthesia is used, you will be able to drive.
What do the results of your LEEP procedure mean?
Ideally, the results indicate that there is no cancer, and sometimes the LEEP procedure is able to remove all pre-malignant and malignant cells (if present). If malignant cells are present, you will be referred to a gynecologic oncologist for further evaluation and recommendations.
How do I prepare for a LEEP procedure?
At Chapel Hill OBGYN in Durham, we’re dedicated to providing treatment plans tailored to each individual. Therefore, depending upon your situation, we will provide specific instructions to best serve you. Typically, a LEEP should not be performed when you are on your period. As a general guideline, you should do the following in preparation for a LEEP procedure:
- Typically, there is no need for fasting or sedation because only local anesthesia is used.
- Let us know if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
- Be sure to let us know if you have changed medications or added new medications to your routine. This includes any herbal remedies or supplements. It’s particularly important to let us know if you have a history of bleeding disorders or are taking medicines such as aspirin that can thin your blood.
- Do not use tampons before your procedure.
- Do not douche or use vaginal creams before the procedure.
- We will also review your medical history with you, making sure that you are not allergic to latex, tape, or the anesthetic that will be used. We want you to know that we will take time to answer any questions you have.
Providing care for more than four decades
When it comes to your health, you need both advanced technology and compassionate care to ensure a healthy life. We provide our patients the personal experience expected from a small, private practice with the advanced resources found at larger research universities. We have worked with women as they faced the challenge of infertility and have celebrated with them when they welcomed a new baby into their family.
If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to know more about your potential risk for cervical cancer, please contact us.
We would love to have the opportunity to serve you.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.
American Cancer Society. “Cervical Cancer- Diagnosis and Staging.” Online.
Johns Hopkins. “Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure.”
The Cleveland Clinic. “Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure.”