Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)
Originally Published: December 13, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 17, 2012
I've read the information in the archives on dysplasia and have a few questions. I had an abnormal Pap and was then scheduled for a colposcopy, which came back as severe dysplasia. My doctor's first available appointment for a LEEP is four weeks away. Is it safe to wait that long? What should I expect during the procedure and how long will it take to recover? After my biopsy, it took me two days to feel good again so I'm thinking it might take even longer this time. Thanks!
A loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) involves the use of a low-voltage, high frequency radio wave that is run through a thin loop of wire. With this instrument, it's possible to remove dysplastic (abnormal)tissue from the cervix in a very effective and efficient manner. After your doctor takes out the abnormal tissue, the sample is sent to a pathology laboratory in order to detect the presence of any cancerous or pre-cancerous cell activity.
Usually, a LEEP is done using a local anesthetic. It can cause discomfort, to varying degrees, for some women. On average, cervical healing takes about one month after the LEEP is performed. Some women experience cramping, tenderness, bleeding, and/or discharge during this period of healing. It is important to remember that women’s experiences following LEEP vary — your experience may be similar to this, or it could be vastly different.
Unfortunately, it isn’t clear whether or not it is safe to wait four weeks to have your LEEP following an abnormal Pap. In most cases, four weeks would not be too long to wait. Your health care provider (who has read your lab reports and knows your case well) is best equipped to decide whether four weeks is an appropriate amount of time for you to wait before doing the LEEP.
It is normal for a person waiting to have a LEEP procedure to experience high levels of anxiety. In order to put your mind at ease, it is highly recommended that you speak with your health care provider. S/he may be able to answer your questions and help you prepare for the procedure. It is helpful to come prepared with a list of questions, such as:
- How long will recovery take?
- Will this procedure be painful?
- Will the LEEP be done with anesthesia?
- Are any medications necessary before or after the procedure?
Speaking with your health care provider could be beneficial for both of you. Not only can you learn more about LEEP, your health care provider can gain a better sense of your concerns and how s/he can better tailor the treatment to meet your needs.
Best of luck,