Do I need to prepare for the scan?
We simply ask that you fast (don't eat) for at least four hours before the scan and be normally hydrated with water. That way, you won't have a big meal in your stomach, which could affect the results. You'll also know to be in the same state when you have your next scan.
Is the scan uncomfortable or claustrophiobic?
A DEXA body scan is non-intrusive and completely pain free, so there is no need to be anxious or nervous. There are no injections and nothing is attached to you.
In fact, many Bodyscan clients say they find the experience calming and relaxing and sometimes fall asleep!
You will lie on a padded mattress and a scanning arm will pass over you three times. The DEXA machine is not like an MRI or CT ‘doughnut’ scanner in that you do not go ‘inside’ the machine. So don’t worry if you suffer from claustrophobia, you will not feel any sense of confinement at all. The scanning arm passes at least 30cm (12 inches) away from your body.
You will need to remain still during the scan but you should be relaxed and breathe normally. Relax and imagine you are lying on the beach!
The scan itself takes less than four minutes and the Bodyscan operator will be in the room with you and can stop the scan immediately if you feel uncomfortable.
Does the body scan measure bone density?
This is a frequent question and the short answer is 'no' (but it depends on your objectives).
If your prime reason for having the DEXA scan is low bone density or osteoporosis then please do NOT book a body scan with us. Whilst the machine is the same for measuring bone density and body composition, they are two very different types of scan.
The Bodyscan report DOES give information about your bone density but this is only an indication and not a definitive, diagnosable result. In other words, it's not a result a doctor would make any firm decisions on. Nevertheless, if the indication was unusually high or low then we would advise you see your GP or a bone specialist for specialist advice.
However, if your primary reason for coming to Bodyscan is your body composition (which it should be!) then the indication of your bone density is certainly very useful to know. As your bone density is unknown (until you break a bone or have a bone scan) we have had many customers whom we've advised to seek specialist medical attention based on the body scan's bone density indication.
If you require a dedicated bone scan in relation to low bone density and osteoporosis, you can request these from your GP or get one privately. Our host clinic in Marylebone, London Medical, performs these on Thursdays and you can arrange them by calling 0800 0483 330. For facilities local to you Google 'private DEXA bone scan'.
Can I bring someone with me? Friends, children, carers and chaperones
If you would like to bring a friend or relative with you, they can be with you during the introduction and the consultation but not during the scan itself, which is about four minutes.
However, a chaperone, nurse or carer can be with you during the scan if required. They will have to sign a form to remain in the room during the scan. It would be helpful if you could drop us an email and let us know in advance.
Our operators are male, so if you require a female chaperone please let us know and we will arrange for a female member of staff from our host clinics to join you. Again, it would be helpful if you could let us know in advance.
What do I wear?
Men - Nearly all men have the scan in their underwear, though if you prefer you can ask for a hospital gown. You can get changed in privacy behind a curtain.
Women – You will be asked to change into a hospital gown in a curtained changing area for privacy. Underneath the gown you should remove all clothing except underpants. You can wear a non-wired bra (eg, a sports bra) but not a traditional wired bra.
Alternatively, both men and women can wear loose-fitting sports clothing with no metal attachments or zips, such as cotton shorts and a sports top. Do not wear anything too restrictive or tight-fitting, such as lycra or figure-hugging clothes.
Metal objects, implants, jewelry and Pacemakers
You will be asked to remove all jewelry and you should do this before you are called for your appointment to save time. If you cannot remove certain pieces, don’t worry, this is fine, it will not affect your scan and it is not dangerous to you in any way.
If you have any metal implants or a Pacemaker, again, don’t worry, the scan can go ahead as normal. Metal implants will show up as dense bone on your Bodyscan report but they will not affect the fat and lean data. There is no risk to the operation of your Pacemaker.
What is the risk from the radiation?
The DEXA scan uses a tiny dose of ionising radiation (X-rays) to measure your body composition. To put the dose and the risk in perspective, it is equivalent to less than one day’s normal background radiation that we each receive every day from outer space and the earth’s natural radiation To put it another way, you are effectively having a DEXA body scan every day without even knowing it.
The dose is so low that the UK Health Protection Agency’s Radiation Protection Division (HPA-RPD) describes the risk from the radiation dose of a body scan as “negligible”. Specifically, the risk of dying from DEXA-related cancer is about one in four million, compared to the natural risk of one in four.
How long does it take?
The actual scan takes less than four minutes but your first appointment with a consultation lasts up to an hour. It is to ensure you fully understand everything in the report, interpret your personal results and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.
When you have a follow-up scan to check your progress, the scan is exactly the same but there is no detailed consultation. The appointment is just 20 minutes, which is enough time to briefly discuss what progress you have made since your previous scan.
How frequently can I have a scan?
You can have a scan every eight weeks (56 days). The optimum period for most people is 12 weeks to track meaningful, measurable changes but if you are on a shorter or more ambitious fat-loss/muscle-building programme then a shorter interval of at least eight weeks may be appropriate.