scroll to top
Loading icon
Health Information Center
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.

Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure

Authors:
  • Deanna M. Neff, MPH
Publication Type:

Procedure

Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure

(LEEP, LLETZ—Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone, LLEC—Large Loop Excision of the Cervix, Loop Cone Biopsy of the Cervix)

Definition

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses a thin wire loop to cut out areas of the cervix. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus. The Loop allows precise cuts.

Reasons for Procedure

LEEP is often done to remove abnormal cells from the cervix. These abnormal cells or cervical dysplasia are often detected during a pap test.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Belly cramping
  • Infection
  • Future pregnancy problems (there is a small increased risk of premature birth and having a low birth weight baby)
  • Not removing enough abnormal tissue
  • Harm to nearby structures

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking excess alcohol
  • Long term health issues, such as diabetes or obesity
  • Menstruation at the time of the procedure
  • History of pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Inflammation of the cervix
  • Pregnancy or possible pregnancy

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Sanitary napkins to use after the procedure.

Anesthesia

The doctor may give local anesthesia—the area will be numbed.

Description of the Procedure

A speculum will be inserted into the vagina. This tool will separate the vaginal walls. This will allow the cervix to be viewed. Anesthesia will be applied to the cervix to numb the area.

A solution will be applied to the area. It will highlight abnormal cells. A thin wire will be inserted into the vagina toward the cervix. The wire will remove the abnormal tissue. The tool heats the area to stop bleeding from blood vessels. A paste may also be applied to stop bleeding.

How Long Will It Take?

LEEP only takes a few minutes.

Will It Hurt?

There may be cramping during LEEP.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

When you are ready, you can go home.

At Home

It will take a few weeks for the area to fully heal. Sexual activity will need to be avoided during that time. Most can return to other normal activities in a few days.

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Heavy bleeding—more than a normal period
  • Bleeding with clots
  • Severe belly pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Unusual odor or discharge

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

References

  • Leung, S.O.A., Vitonis, A.F., et al. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure in managing persistent low-grade abnormality or human papillomavirus positivity. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease, 2021; 25 (4): 281-286.
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/loop-electrosurgical-excision-procedure-leep.
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/loop-electrosurgical-excision-procedure.
Last Updated:
2023-06-01

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.