When it comes to air travel and breast prothesis, there are several things to keep in mind. From changes in cabin pressure and the effects of this on your breast prothesis to having your post-surgical bra setting off the metal detectors, we cover it all to make sure your air travel experience is a breeze.
When it comes to air travel with your breast prothesis, there are two main issues you need to be aware of security and cabin pressure. Both issues are also dependent on what type of prosthesis you have.
Most airports use sophisticated body scanners for security, usually selecting people to be scanned either at random or if they have triggered a metal detector. This can cause concern for anyone wearing a breast prothesis or post-surgical bra; however, rest assured, airport staff are extremely well trained and can be expected to handle any situation with care and grace.
What to do when selected for a scan?
Let security know that you are wearing a prosthesis. You are being dealt with by a professional who has likely encountered this very situation many times. While you may be concerned about your privacy, a
declaration will more often than not, be beneficial. After the scan, any decision as to whether a body search is required is at the discretion of the official involved. You may wish to produce a letter from your doctor or specialist to verify your particular situation.
Important things to remember
The TSA (Transport Security Administration) staff are there to do a job. That being said, their job should never undermine your dignity. If you are ever asked to lift your clothing to reveal your prothesis, you should refuse. You should also never comply if you are asked to remove your prothesis.
If you are feeling uncomfortable about any aspect of the screening process, it is crucial you ask the Customer Support and Quality Improvement Manager or any other airport manager or supervisor to assist you. You may also request to complete a TSA notification card. Although this will not exempt you from screening, it is a more private way of communicating with TSA personnel.
If you are traveling with your prosthesis or mastectomy bra in your suitcase, you can rest assured that it qualifies as a medical necessity and does not fall under the 3-1-1 rules for liquids, gels, and aerosols. You are also free to request that your bag be screened in a private setting.
It can be a scary experience to feel your prosthesis expanding as the cabin pressure rises. However, do not stress! This is very normal. As the pressure in the cabin rises, silicone prosthesis may expand slightly as well. This is simply physics at work. A lower pressure environment leads to volume expansion. The prosthesis may expand and place pressure on your chest, but you shouldn’t worry about this. Breast prothesis are usually made with very high-quality ingredients, and it is highly improbable they would burst or explode. You also shouldn’t worry if you begin to see black speckles on your prosthesis, again this is just from the change in pressure, and they will go away once you land.
You should only ever worry about your breast prosthesis if they have expanded significantly (as in; double their original size), if you feel them heating up or if they are causing you discomfort in any way. If any of these issues occur, go to the bathroom and remove them. You can either put them back in their box and in your hand luggage, above your head in the over-head lockers or explain the situation to the flight attendants and ask them to store your prosthesis for you.
Air travel with breast prosthesis should generally be a stress-free experience, and with the knowledge, you have now you should know how to overcome any obstacles you may be faced with.