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About Your Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

This information explains what to expect during and after your loop electrosurgical excision (LEEP) procedure.
 
LEEP is a procedure that removes abnormal tissue from your cervix. It may be done to confirm a cancer diagnosis or treat precancerous conditions of the cervix. During LEEP, a thin wire loop is used to excise (cut out) abnormal tissue. Your cervix is then cauterized (burned) to stop any bleeding. It usually heals in 4 to 6 weeks. The procedure takes 5 to 7 minutes. You will be in the procedure room for about 30 minutes. You will have little or no discomfort from the procedure.
 

Before Your Procedure

  • Do not take aspirin or any medications that contain aspirin for 10 days before your procedure.
  • Eat and drink as you normally would. You do not need to restrict your diet. 
  • Schedule your procedure for 1 week after your period. This will help us tell the difference between vaginal bleeding that happens after your procedure and during your period.
  • If you think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor. 
  • Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms before your procedure:
    • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
    • Chills 
    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

During Your Procedure

  • If you are of child-bearing age, your doctor will ask you to take a urine pregnancy test before the procedure. 
  • You will be introduced to staff and shown the LEEP equipment. You will also be asked to sign a consent form. 
  • Staff will help you get into position, which is the same position you would be in for a regular pelvic exam. Since the procedure uses electricity, a grounding pad will be placed on your thigh. This is used to prevent shock and to protect you from injury.
  • Your doctor will numb your cervix by injecting it with a medication called lidocaine. You may feel some pressure and slight burning as it is injected. The medication may make your heart beat a little faster.
  • Your doctor will turn on the LEEP equipment; it makes a loud noise that sounds like a vacuum.
  • Once your cervix is numb, your doctor will pass the thin wire loop through the surface of your cervix to remove the abnormal cells. This takes about 1 minute. Sometimes, he or she may need to do a second pass. 
  • Your cervix will be cauterized to stop any bleeding. This takes about 1 minute. 
  • Your doctor will place ferric subsulfate solution (Monsel’s solution) on your cervix. This will prevent any further bleeding. 
  • The equipment will be removed. You will be helped into a comfortable resting position. We will ask you to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. 

After Your Procedure

  • Your nurse will review home care instructions with you before you are discharged.
  • Rest for the remainder of the day. You can return to work or school 1 or 2 days after your procedure. 
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) if you have any discomfort.
  • You can shower as usual, but do not take a bath until your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Do not place anything inside your vagina (e.g., tampons, douches) after your procedure. Do not have vaginal intercourse for at least 4 weeks after your procedure. At that time, your doctor will examine you and decide if your cervix is healed.
  • You may notice a brown discharge for 1 to 2 days from the Monsel’s Solution. You may also have vaginal bleeding that looks like menstrual flow for 1 to 4 days after your procedure. There may be similar bleeding 10 to 12 days later as you are healing. The amount of discharge and bleeding varies for every woman. Use sanitary pads for vaginal discharge and bleeding.
  • Do not do any strenuous activity (e.g., running, aerobics) for 1 week after your procedure.
  • You may have a late or heavy period after your procedure. This is normal. 
  • Call your doctor’s office to set up a follow-up exam for 4 weeks after your procedure. 

Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Blood clots or heavy vaginal bleeding that is not related to your period 
  • Pain that does not get better after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen 
  • Any unexpected or unexplained problems