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Can Full Body Scanners See Breast Implants?

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The new full body scanning systems being deployed in airports across the country have touched off a variety of reactions from travelers. While many passengers feel grateful for the extra security, others are outraged that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers see nude images of their body.

There’s an additional wrinkle in all this for cosmetic surgery patients—the scanners can reveal artificial devices in the body including breast implants. If you’re directed through one of the most sophisticated scanners this holiday season, be prepared for security personnel to discover your breast implants or any other implants you may have (cheek, chin, butt).

When you first consider that another person will be able to see your implants, you may find the whole idea a little unsettling. Plus, being human, not all TSA officers handle the situation with perfect sensitivity. One blog post on RealSelf (www.realself.com/blog/tsa-scanners-breast-implant) described the case of a mastectomy patient who was required to remove a prosthesis in order to do her job as a flight attendant.

So how can you make peace with this new airport security measure?

You might want to spend a few minutes on the TSA website, www.tsa.gov, and familiarize yourself with the new technology. One bit of information may be comforting—the TSA worker who views your image does not see you in person, and the worker who interacts with you in line does not see your image (they communicate through headsets). In other words, the viewing process is anonymous.

In addition, assuming no anomalies are found, your image is discarded right away. The TSA’s website asserts that “The image cannot be stored, transmitted or printed, and is deleted immediately once viewed.”

If you take a moment to browse www.tsa.gov, you can see some of the actual images TSA officers view with the new equipment. While they do reveal more than less advanced machines, the images produced by the two technologies in use today are at least somewhat fuzzy. “Pornographic” photos they are not.

You may wonder whether to inform a TSA worker that you have cosmetic implants prior to being scanned.

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I was scanned and then pat down because they said they saw something in the scan. Considering I was only wearing a shirt (no bra) it occurred to me that the scanner had the ability to see the breast implants that I received post mastectomy. Needless to say, very uncomfortable. If they are going to pat me down every time they see the scan, I might as well save the 10 seconds and radiation exposure but refusing and submitting myself to the uncomfortable pat down. There has to be an easier way.

December 17, 2010 - 11:05am
EmpowHER Guest

Sign the petition:


December 15, 2010 - 5:14am

Yes, the machines do store images, they're required to do so. And no recording devices are supposed to be taken into the booth, but I'm positive it won't be long before 'cell phone photos' are leaked.

Also, IMPLANTS are NOT visible with these scanners. Nor are ANY other type of IMPLANT. These scanners do not see past the skin. Nothing under the skin will show. A prostetic breast WILL show since it's above the skin.

The statement that the pictures are 'not pornographic' could only be accurate if your definition of pornography includes a sex act. these images clearly show the penis, testicles and laiba. Screaners can tell if a woman is using a tampon. So, complete and accurate nudity. Children under 12 have been exempt... but "the perv in the private booth can check our your 12 year old daughter's 'junk'."

As 'punishment' for 'Opting-Out' of the scan (which emits radiation and per experts in radiology 'will cause some cancer') is the 'enhanced pat down' also frequently referred to as 'sexual assult' since it qualifies in most jurisdictions. TSA Agents can use the fronts of their hands and fingers to touch every part of your body including vagina, anus, penis, testicles and breasts and can place their hands under your underwear. Again, in most jurisdictions, it qualifies as Sexual Assault. US Government Agents can claim Soverign Imunity as a defense... but I expect there will be some prosecutions.

There are also half a dozen law suits against the TSA for violating the US Constitutions 4th Amendment restricting search & seisure.

December 14, 2010 - 9:41pm
EmpowHER Guest

The couple of dozen complaints filed on the airport's website since late October read like a trashy novel with statements like; "they put their ... hands down my underwear," ... "feeling all up his legs including the testicles," ... "hitting up wards in my groin area."

December 14, 2010 - 7:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

You can tell the TSA is lying about being unable to save images because they don't say they will delete the image if there is an anomaly (almost everyone has an anomaly).

December 14, 2010 - 6:01pm
EmpowHER Guest

Except that they DO store and send images, are required to, as a matter of fact.

December 14, 2010 - 5:34pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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