Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
It was once one of the most common reasons for cancer death in American women, but with the increased use of the Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) screening, it’s now one of the most treatable forms when detected early.
At Viva Health Group in Linden and Clifton, New Jersey, board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Aleksander J. Bodnar and his team take cervical cancer, its prevention and treatment, seriously. That’s why they offer both Pap tests and HPV screening.
If you do have abnormal cervical cells, though, they can remove them with a LEEP procedure. Here’s what you can expect.
What is a LEEP procedure?
LEEP, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure, is a treatment used to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Bodnar may perform the procedure after finding abnormal cells during a Pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy.
LEEP removes abnormal cells from the cervix using a thin wire loop that acts like a scalpel. The doctor sends an electric current through the loop, which cuts away a thin layer of the cervix and the altered cells.
What to expect during your LEEP procedure
Dr. Bodnar performs the LEEP procedure in the comfort of his office. It only takes about 10 minutes, after which you’re free to go.
To allow for the best view of your cervix, you shouldn’t schedule a LEEP when you’re having your menstrual period. Instead, try to schedule it about five days after.
During the procedure, you lie on your back and place your legs in stirrups. After giving you a local anesthetic, Dr. Bodnar inserts a speculum into your vagina, just as he would for a pelvic exam.
Then, he inserts the loop into the vagina and through to the cervix. You shouldn’t feel any pain as he charges the loop and removes the tissue, but you may have some cramping. If you feel faint, tell the doctor, and he can stop what he’s doing.
After Dr. Bodnar has finished, he applies a special paste called Monsel’s Solution on the cervix to prevent bleeding, or he may use electrocautery to seal the vessels. The harvested cells are sent to a lab, where they’re examined to either confirm or deny a cervical cancer diagnosis.
What to expect after your LEEP procedure
Following the procedure, you may notice:
- Mild cramping
- Watery, pinkish discharge
- Brownish-black discharge (from the paste)
It takes several weeks for your cervix to heal. During that time, don’t place anything in the vagina, such as tampons or douches, and don’t have sexual intercourse. Dr. Bodnar tells you when it’s safe to do so.
If you have any of the following problems, contact our office immediately and the doctor can advise you:
- Heavy bleeding (more than a normal period)
- Bleeding with clots
- Severe abdominal pain
You also need to schedule a follow-up cancer screening with Dr. Bodnar to ensure all the precancerous or cancerous cells are gone.
If you’ve had an abnormal Pap test or HPV screening, you may be a candidate for a LEEP procedure. To learn more, and to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bodnar, give Viva Health Group a call at either of our locations, or book online with us today.