What is a LEEP or a LLETZ Procedure?
LEEP stands for Loop Electosurgical Excision Procedure. Some doctors use the term LLETZ (Large Loops Excision of the Transformation Zone) which is an identical procedure.
This procedure is done, following a colposcopy which tells the physician exactly how large and where the lesion is located. The tissue is then submitted to a pathologist who examines the entire lesion looking for the presence of dysplasia and cancer. Additionally, the pathologist can tell if the entire lesion has been removed.
Although the LEEP procedure is a surgical procedure it is safely performed in our office. Many patients are given a combination of medications that result in conscious sedation—a type of “twilight sleep”.
During this procedure an electrical energy generator is attached to a fine wire loop that when energized, functions as a precise and rapid surgical tool. This instrument is then directed toward an abnormal area on the cervix and may be used quickly, effectively and painlessly to remove the abnormal tissue. The procedure takes about 15 minutes to perform and you may expect to spend another 40 minutes in the office as your medications wear off.
How long is the recovery?
Most women return to work in 1-3 days. You should avoid heavy lifting for 3-4 weeks afterwards. You should avoid intercourse for a full 6 weeks postoperatively.
How effective is it?
LEEP is extremely effective, with a 90% success rate; however, there are cases in which the procedure has to be repeated.
What are the risks and consequences?
The risks and consequences are rare, but an LEEP can cause damage to the other pelvic organs or the wall of the vagina. There can be excessive bleeding or pelvic infection (particularly if you have sex before the recommended 3-6 weeks for the cervix to heal.) There also can be a reaction to the local anesthesia. Another rare consequence is the risk of preterm birth in some pregnancies. However, the likelihood of these complications is quite small—especially in experienced hands.
If I have a LEEP Procedure how often will I need to be followed? Your doctor will request frequent check ups and pap tests following this procedure. This may be as often as every 3 months during the first postoperative year.