LLETZ or Loop Diathermy

Information for patients - LLETA or Loop Diathermy.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Why have I been offered a LLETZ or Loop Diathermy?

An area of abnormal cells has been found on your cervix (neck of the womb). LLETZ, otherwise known as loop diathermy, is carried out to remove and examine these cells more closely.

What is involved?

Firstly a colposcopy will be performed to identify the abnormal area.

The colposcopist will inject a local anaesthetic into your cervix. This means you are awake, but the area that needs treating is numb (you cannot feel it). The injection might sting for a short time and you may be aware of your heart beating faster. This feeling will pass shortly.

A diathermy plate (big sticky pad) is placed on your thigh (or appropriate area) to make sure the electric current we use does not burn you. The diathermy plate does not hurt and is removed once the treatment is finished.

The abnormal cells are removed using a wire loop heated by an electric current. You should not feel any pain, but you may feel some pressure and experience a dull cramp in the lower abdomen similar to period pain.

It is normal to notice a slight burning smell and hear a noise like a soft vacuum cleaner.

Whilst the treatment itself takes just a few minutes, afterwards you will be taken to recovery to rest for 20 minutes, so please allow an hour in total for your appointment.

You are welcome to have someone with you for support.

What are the benefits?

LLETZ is a simple and safe technique which gives excellent results - it is successful in over 9 in 10 (90%) cases, meaning no further treatment is needed.

What are the risks?

Bleeding: There is a small risk of heavy bleeding (for example soaking through a sanitary pad every hour).

Infection: There is a small risk of infection. Symptoms include painful cramps, a high temperature and/or smelly discharge.

Cervical stenosis: There is a very small risk that the opening of the cervix will become narrowed due to scarring. This can cause painful periods, difficulty conceiving or the cervix not to open well during labour. This risk increases if you have been through menopause or have had a LLETZ previously.

Premature birth: There is a small increased risk of late miscarriage or early delivery in future pregnancies.

Burn: There is a very small risk of a burn to the vagina.

What can I expect afterwards?

You may experience some or none of the following:

  • Some pain for between 2 days to up to 4 weeks after treatment. The pain varies from person to person, but should not be severe. It is often described as a cramping pain, like a period.
  • Some bleeding and discharge. Initially the bleeding may be like a heavy period turning eventually into a pink/ brownish discharge. This could last up to 4 weeks.
  • You may feel light headed/faint after your treatment. If you have a tendency to faint, then we advise you to arrange for a friend or relative to transport you home afterwards.
  • If you have periods, the next one may be slightly heavier/lighter or out-of-sync with your regular cycle.

If you are concerned that you are bleeding too heavily or have an infection, please contact Greenoaks or your GP during weekday working hours, or Ward B11 out of hours on 01709 424349.


Until all bleeding/discharge has stopped it is recommended to avoid:

  • penetrative vaginal sex - including fingers, tongues and other objects
  • tampons or menstrual cups - you can use pads instead
  • heavy exercise that causes you to sweat
  • swimming and hot tubs
  • baths - you can shower as normal

Practical advice

  • Please make sure you eat and drink something before your appointment.
  • You will be safe to drive following LLETZ, unless advised otherwise by the colposcopist.
  • Rest for the remainder of the day following your treatment. 
  • If you have a contraceptive coil, it may be left in place, but the coil threads may be accidentally cut. This will not affect its use. Your colposcopist will explain on the day.
  • Please advise your colposcopist of any upcoming holidays, as it may affect your care plan. We may need to delay LLETZ until after your return home, because of the risk of bleeding and infection. In addition, some travel insurance companies may not provide you with cover immediately following LLETZ.
  • If you are pregnant then we prefer not to do any treatment on your cervix. We will re-arrange a date, usually three months after your baby is born. However, we may suggest a colposcopy during your pregnancy which is not harmful to your baby.
  • If you are having your period we can still carry out LLETZ provided that your bleeding is light. Please call the Colposcopy Office or Greenoaks for advice.

Results and follow up

  • Any tissue removed from your cervix will be sent away for analysis and we aim to write to you within 8 weeks with your results. Please ensure we have the correct contact details.
  • Mostly likely we will recommend a cervical screening (smear) test called a Test of Cure. This takes place 6 months after LLETZ. Occasionally we might recommend further treatment.

How to contact us

Colposcopy Secretaries
Telephone 01709 424300
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Health Advice
Telephone 01709 427641
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Telephone 01709 820000

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  • Page last reviewed: 14 March 2023
  • Next review due: 14 September 2023