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Who Needs a LEEP Procedure?

Who Needs a LEEP Procedure?

Depending on your age and sexual activity, you probably undergo regular Pap smear tests. A Pap smear is a simple test that allows your OB/GYN to evaluate the health of your cervix, which is the opening to your uterus, at the top of your vagina.

The Pap smear is then sent to a lab, which evaluates it for abnormalities, such as precancerous changes in the cervical cells. Regular Pap smears have helped to drastically reduce the death rate from cervical cancer because they allow doctors to detect abnormal cells in time to treat and possibly cure any cancer.

Most of the time, your Pap smear comes back “negative,” which means your cells are normal. Sometimes, though, the Pap smear is “positive,” which requires further investigation and possible treatment. When the cells are abnormal, you may need a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). 

At Elite Gynecology, our expert gynecologists, Molly McBride, MD, and Tamara Guichard, MD, want to help keep you cancer-free. That’s why they may sometimes recommend LEEP.

If your doctor tells you that you need LEEP, you don’t have to worry. Following is a brief description of what LEEP is, why it’s needed, and how you benefit.

First, we look closer at abnormal cells

Many times, a positive Pap smear is a false positive. That’s why we usually then recommend colposcopy, which is an investigative technique that allows us to take a closer look at your cervix. 

During a colposcopy procedure, you lie on the exam table with your feet in the stirrups. We insert a speculum to hold your vagina open so we can look at your cervix, as if you were having a PAP smear. Then we use a colposcope to examine your cervix. A colposcope is a device that looks like a set of binoculars and magnifies your cervical cells up to 40 times their normal size.

If we see any abnormal cells, we remove them and send them to a lab for an analysis. If the cells are positive for cancer, we may recommend LEEP.

LEEP removes cancerous and precancerous cells

If your colposcopy biopsy found cervical dysplasia, which is precancer, or cancerous cells, the we use LEEP to remove them. Sometimes we perform colposcopy and LEEP in the same session.

Again, the process of having a LEEP is similar to a Pap smear or a colposcopy. However, we may numb your cervix and surrounding tissue to keep you comfortable during the procedure.

After inserting the speculum to open your vagina, we insert the LEEP device, which is a fine wire loop that we pass a current through. The heat and the wire gently cut away a thin layer of the abnormal tissue. In most cases, LEEP isn’t painful at all. Your cervix doesn’t actually have nerve endings, so you may not feel anything other than pressure.

You may need follow-up to LEEP

Once we’ve removed all of the cancerous or precancerous cells, we send them to a lab for analysis. LEEP has a 90% cure rate for cervical cancer. Afterward, we may recommend more frequent monitoring to make sure your abnormal cells don’t grow back.

Also, to ensure that all of the dysplastic and abnormal cells are removed, you may need a follow-up LEEP. We may also recommend another LEEP if you’re at high risk for cervical cancer, such as when you’re infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).

LEEP treats other issues, too

Even though LEEP is most commonly used to treat and often cure cervical cancer, you may benefit from LEEP for other reasons, too. We may recommend it to treat you for:

You may have cramping or spotting after LEEP. However, we brush your cervix with Monsel’s Solution to minimize bleeding. The LEEP procedure itself seals off blood vessels so that you don’t bleed excessively.

Do you need LEEP? Find out today by contacting the office nearest you — in Midtown East, Murray Hill, New York City, or Forest Hills, New York — or use our online appointment button.

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