LEEP stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure, a minimally-invasive medical procedure that uses an electrified loop of very thin wire to remove genital warts and to perform biopsies of abnormal tissue on or around the cervix. The procedure can be performed right in the doctor’s office with no need for general anesthesia. The electrical current helps “seal” blood vessels so there’s less bleeding following tissue removal compared to techniques that use traditional surgical instruments to remove tissue.
First, the patient will remove her clothing from the waist down and put on a hospital gown. During the LEEP procedure, the patient will lie on her back on the exam table and place her feet in the stirrups, and a surgical drape will be used to cover her from her belly to her legs.
Dr. Smith will insert a lubricated speculum into the patient’s vagina to gently widen the vaginal canal so the treatment site can be viewed more clearly and to make room for the wire loop instrument.
A local anesthetic will be injected into the cervix to numb the tissue. Pain medication or a sedative may be provided to reduce any discomfort.
A colposcope — a lighted magnifying device — may be placed at the vaginal opening to provide a very detailed view of the area.
Then, Dr. Smith will insert the LEEP instrument into the vagina and carefully remove the abnormal tissue.
Once the tissue has been removed, the doctor will send it to a lab for further evaluation to ensure no cancer cells are present.
LEEP is performed as a same-day surgery, which means patients can return home shortly after their procedure.
When tissue is removed from the cervix or the vaginal walls, patients may experience some minor cramping for a few days after their procedure, and vaginal discharge is not uncommon — sometimes lasting for 1 or 2 weeks — depending on the extent of the treatment.
Normal activities can be resumed within 1 to 3 days.
Patients should use sanitary napkins (pads) to control discharge, not tampons which can irritate the area and even introduce infection. Douching and sexual intercourse should also be avoided during healing. When LEEP is used to remove warts on the external genitalia, there may be some mild discomfort and bleeding during the very early stages of healing.
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