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TSA Advice? Bilateral Mastectomy

I am looking for advice about getting through TSA screening without extra embarrassment.

I had a bilateral mastectomy, no reconstruction, all healed now. I am comfortable with this new body in everyday situations and also at my community swimming pool where I work out without prostheses. But I am terrified of TSA.

During chemo (before surgery), I had a terrible TSA experience. I was seriously underweight and had no hair and looked … you know how I looked. They pulled me out of line, emptied all of my luggage, threw out all the food I had with me because of the chemo nausea, and gave me the most invasive pat-down I have ever experienced. All of this was in view of about a hundred people. I had to fly to get to my next chemo infusion so I got through it and got on the plane. I have not flown since. Two years later, I am wondering if the rest of my life is going to be limited by not being able to fly. My fear of TSA is getting worse, not better.

I don't understand what the screening will be like. I don't understand what they will be able to see, and what they will do when they see that I don't have a "normal" body. I don't understand what I could do to make additional screening less likely. And I don't know how to find out.

Thank you. I appreciate the information this community has provided in the past few years. -lena


  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,506
    edited August 15


    I am so sorry that you had that experience. It does sound awful and it’s understandable that you would be stressed.
    I had a bilateral mx with one step implants and a port placed twelve years ago and have not personally experienced anything other than a normal inspection. This is not to say that anything was “wrong” when you had that bad experience but just to say that it is not common.
    Could you contact TSA and explain that if (and that’s a big if) they feel you need more than the usual screening that it be done privately due to a medical condition? I am sure this request would not be unusual. Again, I don’t know what triggered a more in depth screening previously but most of the time those who have had surgery, anywhere not just breasts, don’t require secondary screening . I won’t make you any promises but am fairly optimistic that this won’t happen again but check with TSA regarding medical issues and privacy concerns.
    PS: They are not concerned with whether or not your body looks normal (think about the hundreds of medical conditions that can alter the body!)

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,506

  • murfy
    murfy Member Posts: 252

    lena, what a terrible experience, indeed. I had a similar experience because my fake boob was opaque in the xray machine and they tried to pat me down. I asked to be inspected in 'the little room' where I explained that I had a prosthesis; they did a thorough exam anyway, but I was spared the embarrassment of many others watching. I signed up for TSA precheck after that. However, in separate incident, my carry-on included a swimsuit with prosthesis insert that they found suspicious. Two TSA guys went through my luggage and actually took out the foob in front of many. Uncalled for…next time will wear foob if TSA-approved and, if not, will put foob right on top in my bag, with a little note, just for them.