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Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

LEEP is the most common procedure performed for preinvasive disease of the cervix (dysplasia), a condition that causes cells to become abnormal but not yet cancerous.

Dysplasia is often first discovered if a Pap smear is abnormal, or during a colposcopy. LEEP is a quick and precise way to remove just the abnormal tissue.

The procedure

  • A LEEP procedure begins in the same way as a standard pelvic exam. You'll lie on an examination table with your feet in the stirrups, and your health care provider will insert a speculum into your vagina.
  • You will receive some local anesthetic and a mild iodine or vinegar solution to show any abnormal cells. Your doctor or nurse will look at the cells through a magnifying device called a colposcope.
  • A thin wire loop running a high-frequency electrical current will let your provider remove the abnormal cells very precisely. The loop is very thin and will seal any opened blood vessels as it goes.
  • The tissue is then sent to the lab to look for cancerous cells.


The procedure is relatively painless, although you may experience some cramping and light bleeding.

For the next few weeks, it is a good idea to avoid the following:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Tampons or douching
  • Heavy lifting
  • Vigorous exercise
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