Preparing for Your Mammogram

Avoid using perfume, lotion, powder, or deodorant on or near your breasts on the day of the test, since those substances can interfere with getting a clear picture. When you arrive at the breast imaging center, you'll be escorted to a private changing area and asked to undress from the waist up and put on a soft robe, with the opening at the front.

Once you're in the examining room, the technologist will probably take four images of your breasts: a top view and a side view of each breast. For each image, you will remove one sleeve of the robe to expose just the breast being X-rayed. The technologist will position the breast on a platform and then a pane of Plexiglas will come down, or sideways, to compress the breast. You'll have to hold very still, during this time, you may feel the sensation of being "pinched," but the process is very quick.

If you are having a diagnostic mammogram, a radiologist will review your images right away. If you are having a screening mammogram, your results will be available in 24-48 hours.

If the radiologist sees an area of concern, a few things can happen. If you were here for a screening mammogram, you may be called back and a technologist will take more images of your breast and/or you may be scheduled for a breast ultrasound or biopsy. After additional images are taken, your results will be available that same day. Most of the time, the images will give the team all the information needed. If there remains reason for concern, the next step will be a biopsy.