Loop electrosurgical excision procedure or LEEP is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses a small, controlled current of electricity transmitted along a thin, looped wire to remove cells or “clumps” of tissue. LEEP is often used to remove genital warts or to remove abnormal tissue in the vaginal canal or cervix so the tissue can be evaluated. The LEEP procedure can be completed in a simple, in-office procedure without the need for incisions or general anesthesia.
LEEP takes about 10-15 minutes to perform, and it begins in much the same way as a pelvic exam, with the patient positioned on her back on the exam table. A speculum is used to open the vaginal canal gently so the treatment area can be easily accessed. A local anesthetic will be injected into the area to numb the tissue, and a special magnifying instrument will be used to make it easier to see the treatment site. Once the LEEP instrument is in position, a very small amount of electrical current will be sent through the wire to heat it so it can safely and effectively remove tissue. After the tissue is removed, it can be sent to a lab for further evaluation. A special solution may be applied to the treatment site to help control bleeding and prevent infection.
Once the LEEP procedure is complete, patients will be able to go home after a very brief period of recovery. There may be some mild cramping, light bleeding or vaginal discharge following the procedure and persisting for several days to as long as three weeks. Pads – not tampons – can be used as needed during this time. Sexual intercourse and douching will also need to be avoided during this initial period of recovery.
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