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Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

LEEP is a therapeutic surgical procedure performed on the cervix to remove certain abnormal cells.


Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a treatment to remove abnormal, precancerous tissue from the cervix. Removing precancerous cells helps stop them from developing into cervical cancer. The procedure uses a small wire loop that is attached to an electrical current. When the loop is passed over cervical tissue, it cuts away a layer of abnormal cells. The removed tissue is sent to a lab for testing. The procedure takes about 20 minutes, and the full recovery time is about four weeks.

Why is LEEP Performed?

LEEP is both a diagnostic tool and a form of treatment. Removing the tissue for testing often cures cervical dysplasia by eliminating the abnormal cells. The tissue that is removed will be sent to a lab. Your physician will let you know the results when the testing is complete. In some instances, you may need a repeat procedure to remove all the cells completely.

A hysterectomy is a major surgery to remove your uterus that should never be the first-line treatment for treating abnormal cell growths. Your provider may recommend a hysterectomy if you have more advanced cervical dysplasia, and additional LEEPs or related procedures haven’t prevented abnormal cells from recurring.

What Happens If Abnormal Cells Are Detected?

Your healthcare provider may recommend LEEP after a Pap smear or a colposcopy biopsy confirms that you have abnormal cells in your cervix. LEEP is also done to detect cancer of the cervix or vagina.

LEEP may also be used to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of the following conditions:


Polyps (benign growths)


Genital warts, which may indicate infection with human papilloma virus (HPV), a risk factor for developing cervical cancer


Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure in women whose mothers took DES during pregnancy, as DES exposure increases the risk for cancer of the reproductive system

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists