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
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.
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