Understanding the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

February 1, 2022 12:57 pm Published by

leep procedure

With regular Pap tests, doctors can detect abnormal cells before they turn into cervical cancer. Precancerous cells are often called low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, or mild dysplasia. A loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a common treatment to treat these precancerous cells.

LEEP is often performed as an outpatient procedure in your provider’s office with local anesthesia. Your provider will insert a thin wired loop into your vagina, and when it reaches your cervix, a small electrical current passes through the loop to cut off a thin layer of the cervix, removing the abnormal cells. Because of the local numbing, you likely won’t feel any burning or cutting from the loop, but you may experience cramping or mild discomfort. The entire procedure typically only takes a few minutes.

LEEP can also get rid of tiny nodules on the cervix, known as nabothian cysts. Nabothian cysts don’t signal cervical cancer, but they can be painful for some women.

LEEP Recovery

After your LEEP procedure, your provider may recommend a mild over-the-counter pain reliever to help with any cramping you might experience. For a few weeks while your cervix recovers, you can typically expect:

  • Brownish discharge
  • Cramping
  • Watery, pink discharge

You may wish to wear a sanitary napkin until you are fully recovered. Tampons are not recommended.

You will most likely need to visit your provider for more frequent cervical cancer screenings to ensure all of the abnormal cells are gone and have not returned.

Risks from the LEEP

Most people don’t experience serious side effects after a LEEP procedure. However, sometimes rare side effects can occur, including:

  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Infection
  • Narrowed cervix that could cause problems with menstruation
  • Premature births or low birth weight in your baby

Very rarely, LEEP can cause damage to the cervical wall or other pelvic organs. Call your provider right away if you experience:

  • Fever and chills
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Severe cramping or pain

Other Options

Some other options to eliminate abnormal cells are:

  • Your provider uses a chemical to freeze and remove abnormal cells. Cryotherapy can also treat warts and other growths.
  • During this procedure, your provider removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from your cervix. While this is most often used for biopsy, it can also be used for treatment since the abnormal cells are most often removed during the process.
  • Laser ablation. Laser ablation uses a high energy light (laser) to target and destroy abnormal cells in your cervix.

Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if any of these options are right for you.


Need to schedule a cervical cancer screening? Make an appointment with a MRHC women’s health provider.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center