The loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is used to remove the abnormal area of cells on the surface of the cervix. The presence of abnormal cells does not mean you have cancer, but the treatment of the abnormal area is important to prevent the cells from developing into cervical cancer.
A speculum is inserted into the vagina to view the cervix. A vinegar solution is then applied to the cervix to make the abnormal cells visible. Your physician then places a colposcope (a small binocular microscope) near the opening of the vagina. The colposcope, which remains outside of the vagina, provides a magnified view of the cervix.
The cervix is then numbed with local anesthesia. A fine wire loop that is attached to a high-frequency electrical generator is inserted through the speculum and up to the cervix. This loop allows very precise removal of abnormal tissue from your cervix. Because the procedure is so exact, and the loop very thin, there is very little damage to the tissue surrounding the area that needs to be removed. The electric current allows for the blood vessels surrounding the area to be sealed so there is very little bleeding. You may experience a dull ache or cramp during the procedure. Finally, a medicated paste may be applied to the area to prevent bleeding.
After the procedure, there may be bleeding (lighter than a period), mild cramping, and possibly a brownish discharge from the medication used to prevent excess bleeding. The cervix takes several weeks to heal so tampons, douches, and sexual intercourse should be avoided. Also, heavy lifting and exercise should not be done for a few days after the procedure.
This technique allows your physician to send the excised tissue to the lab for further evaluation, ensuring that the lesion was completely removed, as well as allowing for a more accurate assessment of the abnormal area.