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Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure

This information will prepare you for your loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).

A LEEP is done after precancerous cells are found on a Pap smear and confirmed by a colposcopy (examination of the cervix). During the procedure, a thin wire loop is used to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix. This is done to confirm a cancer diagnosis or to treat precancerous conditions of the cervix. The cervix is then cauterized (burned) to stop any bleeding. It usually heals in 4 to 6 weeks.

A LEEP 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 medications that contain aspirin for 10 days before your procedure.
  • Eat or drink as you normally would. You don't 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 your period.
  • 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

A urine pregnancy test will be given to women of child-bearing age on the day of the procedure. If you think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor.

  • 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. It is used to prevent shock and will protect you from injury.
  • Your doctor will numb your cervix. This is done by injecting it with a medication called lidocaine. You may feel some pressure and slight burning as it is injected. Your heart may beat a little faster because of the medication.
  • 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. This takes about 1 minute. A second pass is sometimes needed.
  • Your cervix will then be cauterized to stop any bleeding. This takes about 1 minute.
  • A thick paste called Monsel's Solution will then be put on your cervix. This is done to prevent 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.

Your nurse will review home care instructions with you.

After Your Procedure

  • Rest for the remainder of the day. You may return to work or school 1 or 2 days after your procedure.
  • Use sanitary pads for vaginal discharge and bleeding. 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.
  • 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 return to strenuous activity (e.g., running, aerobics) about 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.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®) if you have any discomfort.
  • You may shower as usual but do not take a bath.

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
  • Any questions or concerns