The loop electrosurgical excision procedure
(LEEP) uses a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop to remove genital warts by heating the margin of the area to be
removed, which separates the wart from the skin.
LEEP is done in a
doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital on an outpatient basis. A local anesthetic is injected to numb the area.
For women, abnormal cervical cell changes caused by HPV will be treated
differently than genital warts caused by HPV. Your doctor may recommend certain
types of surgery, such as LEEP. To learn more about surgical methods to
treat abnormal cell changes, see the topic Abnormal Pap Test.
What To Expect After Surgery
Recovery time depends on the location
and number of warts removed. Most people will be able to return to normal
activities within 1 to 3 days after LEEP.
For men and women who have had LEEP, call your doctor if you have any of the
Bleeding that lasts longer than 1
yellowish discharge, which may point to an infection
Avoid sexual intercourse until the treated area heals and
the soreness is gone (usually 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the size of the area
Why It Is Done
LEEP may be used to treat large,
external warts and warts on the cervix.
How Well It Works
LEEP may be as effective as other surgeries to remove warts, but scarring may occur.
During LEEP, only a small amount of normal tissue
is removed at the edges of the wart tissue.
Bleeding is the most common side effect. But
typically LEEP causes less blood loss than laser treatment.
Scarring of the penis is a possible side effect that can result in
problems with urination or erection.
Infection does not occur
often and can be treated with antibiotics.
What To Think About
LEEP works best with large,
external warts or warts on the cervix.
Treating genital warts may
not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus may remain in the
body in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for genital
warts may still be able to spread the infection. Latex condoms may help reduce the
risk of HPV infection.
The benefits and effectiveness of each type
of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost. Discuss this
with your doctor.
Bonnez W (2015). Papillomaviruses. In JE Bennett et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1794-1806. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKevin C. Kiley, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology