Surgery Overview

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
following:

  • Bleeding that lasts longer than 1
    week
  • A fever
  • Severe pain
  • Bad-smelling or
    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
treated).

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.

Risks

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.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • 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.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kevin C. Kiley, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017