What Is Involved in a LEEP for HPV?

Andrea Cross
Andrea Cross
A woman should rest for the first few days after an LEEP procedure.
A woman should rest for the first few days after an LEEP procedure.

A LEEP is a loop electrical excision procedure that removes abnormal cells from the cervix. Doctors use LEEP to treat the precancerous or cancerous cells that are caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is often eliminated by the body itself, but if not, then a LEEP for HPV may be performed. This procedure is quite low risk and effective and can be used in place of a cone biopsy.

During a LEEP procedure a speculum is inserted into the vagina, much like during a standard pelvic exam.
During a LEEP procedure a speculum is inserted into the vagina, much like during a standard pelvic exam.

Doctors may chose LEEP for HPV after a woman has received more than one pap test that has revealed the presence of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells will have been biopsied during a colposcopy and indicated precancerous or cancerous changes requiring treatment. A LEEP treatment can be used for minor, moderate, or severe changes. Doctors carry out the LEEP in an office, a clinic, or as a day case procedure in a hospital.

Mild cramping may be experienced following a LEEP procedure.
Mild cramping may be experienced following a LEEP procedure.

This treatment is similar to a colposcopy. The patient removes her clothes below the waist and covers with a paper drape before lying back onto the examination table. She places her feet up in the stirrups on either sides of the table, and a speculum is inserted into her vagina and opened to allow the doctor a clear view of the cervix. The doctor injects the patient with a local cervical block anesthesia, which numbs any pain from the procedure.

An acetic solution such as iodine is applied to the walls of the cervix in order to highlight the abnormal cells. The doctor inserts a thin, low-voltage, electrified wire loop into the cervix to cut out the abnormal cells. This part of the LEEP for HPV procedure usually only takes a few seconds, and the patient should not feel any pain, only a cramping sensation. The area is then cauterized in order to minimize bleeding. The doctor may also apply Monsels solution to prevent bleeding.

Recovery time for LEEP for HPV is relatively short, generally one to three days. The patient may have some minor cramping and discharge but will be provided with a follow-up sheet describing what to expect. Risks for the LEEP for HPV procedure are quite low but can include infection, bleeding, and fever. There is also a risk of not removing all of the affected tissue, but follow-up smear tests will usually find any abnormal cells left behind.

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    • A woman should rest for the first few days after an LEEP procedure.
      A woman should rest for the first few days after an LEEP procedure.
    • During a LEEP procedure a speculum is inserted into the vagina, much like during a standard pelvic exam.
      During a LEEP procedure a speculum is inserted into the vagina, much like during a standard pelvic exam.
    • Mild cramping may be experienced following a LEEP procedure.
      Mild cramping may be experienced following a LEEP procedure.