Airport security - pills and body scanners!


We’re going on holiday in 3 weeks, flying out of terminal 2 at Manchester. Haven’t been on a plane for about six years so not au fait with current security procedures.

The first thing is do I pack my pills in hand luggage or suitcase. I take AI with my evening meal which will be before we unpack (and also calcium tablets) but wondering whether better to put in my suitcase so no problem at security and also in case suitcase gets lost. On the M’cr airport website, it says proof may be required re medicines. What the heck does that mean? Short of flashing my failed reconstruction and mx scars at them, how else do I “prove” it? I don’t really want to bother my GP asking for a letter etc.

Also, the other thing is that I am worrying about the body scanner they now use. It sounds from what I read on the internet that implants will show up on it. Also, I worry that they will be used to seeing cosmetic implants but not implants that fill the whole breast space and that I will then get awkward qus about this. Does anyone have any experience of going through the body scanner with implant reconstruction on both sides?

Thanks in advance for any help. I’m getting stressed at the thought of going which is kind of counter-productive!


Hi Nicola,

I would pack your medication in your hand luggage so that there is no risk of being without it if your checked baggage should go astray. There shouldn’t be any problem with AI’s and security especially if they are in packaging supplied and labeled by your pharmacy but just in case you could take a copy of your prescription with you.

BCC has a page of info on airport scanners which should answer your questions - it’s here:

Hope that helps and have a lovely holiday!


When i was at Gatwick airport in august they werent using the body scanners, i think they are only used if someone looks suspicious.

As far as tablets go, def put in hand luggage in case of flight delay or lost suitcase. My GP told me to take copy of prescription with me (used the tear off bit that i take when renewing).

Have a good time.

Hi Nicola, I have had a typewritten letter in my pill dispenser box for 11 years now and no-one has ever asked to see it yet!
It is on headed notepaper and signed by my GP and reads as follows

" The above named patient is on a number of prescription drugs, including morphine sulphate tablets, which she requires for pain relief."…just looked out the letter and it is dated 18th November 1999!!!
Another thing I do when I go on holiday is split the tablets into two and put in two different areas. So that if anything is stolen or goes missing you will probably have some to fall back on until you sort the problem out.
I haven’t been in a plane for a while but intend to fly in the near future and will be interested to hear if anyone has any input re the scanners and implants.

Oh and have a lovely holiday Nicola. Val
Oh and enjoy your holiday Nicola. Val

Hi Nicola,
thank you for posting this - i had no idea about the scanners picking up prostheses !
I am due to fly off on a much needed holiday in 4 weeks time, to America, so this is extremely useful information ,especially as I have bilateral prosthetics. I have been warned!
Hope you have a lovely holidayXXXX

Thank you for the replies.

Ok - plan of action for pills is one lot in hand luggage and one lot in suitcase. I don’t have my last prescription slip so I’m going to tel nurse practitioner at GP practice and request a letter.

As for the body scanners, I fully support the use of anything that improves security but I just want to know exactly what they can and can’t see and also I want to know whether the staff are trained to know about implant reconstructions and will recognise them as this without asking questions. The info on BCC about this is rather vague.

I think they scan one in five at Manchester or something like that. So sod’s law is that I will be scanned and I’ll probably be so worried about having an awkward conversation that I’ll be looking really suspicious anyway!!

Hi Everyone, Just seen this thread and thought I’d add my twopennorth. I’ve been through airport scanners very recently (June) and I have a breast implant. There was no problem at all and I packed my meds in my hand luggage as well as spares in my suitcase. I also took a copy of my prescription, but no one asked to see it. I’ve just been on a cruise for the last two weeks and the same thing there. Went through all the scanners with no problem.

Hope you have a brilliant time. Lots of love, Dianne x x x

Most airport security staff are usually very understanding about the need to have your medication in your hand luggage. I have a separate ongoing medical condition for which I take a lot of pills and in all the years I’ve been flying it’s never been a problem. I must admit though, that I was surprised I was allowed to take my epi pen on in my handbag. You could do a lot of damage to someone with it, not just the contents but the very long needle, I must have a trustworthy face! :slight_smile:

These days airports are more concerned about anything taken onboard in liquid form, rather than pills. So as long as you have everything properly labeled and some sort of proof (letter or prescription) that it’s all yours, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Have a wonderful time! xx

I remember reading somewhere…don’t know where sorry…that it is better to keep your pills in the original cardboard packet if possible as it shows your name and that the pills are specifically for YOU. This is a very interesting thread. Val

Have any of you who wear an external prosthesis been through the bodyscanner yet??? When I read the bcc info it made me really nervous.

i always take my medication in my hand luggage… im on about 6 tablets and 2 or 3 creams/gels, and eye drops every day… on the lotions and potions i put the sticky pharmacy label and carry the original flattened boxes of the tablets in my hold luggage… i do also carry my hospital letters with my meds to show iv had treatment for breast cancer and repeat prescription… never had any problems and never even been asked to show anything and i fly usually about 2 or 3 times a year… i do keep my meds in a wee pouch… my ‘drug bag’ and i put it in the tray along with liquids when i go through security so they can see im not trying to hide them.

as for body scanner only time iv been in one was travelling back from new york when i travelled through schipol airport in the netherlands, when all passengers had to go through it… shows up everything… even my coil!

i do think it may be difficult if you have a prosthesis as there didnt seem to be anywhere you could tell them privately but perhaps you could take a written letter from you doc to say you have one if that is the case so you dont need to point it out to them…

also if you fart in the machine apparently it can even pick up the gas in the scanner!!! so beware of bodily functions lol.

have a fabulous holiday


my prothesis set it off, however its not the same person who sees it that attends to you, i went to try and explain but she just had a feel around and then let me go - i was nervous about it

I travel frequently but so far have managed to avoid the larger airports with scanners, just hate the thought of being subjected to body searches, it’s bad enough having to wear a prosthesis let alone having to declare it publicly every time you want to fly.!!!

Hi everyone

This is a very interesting thread. I’m flying from Manchester to Heathrow on Tuesday and have been concerned about the meds. BA recommend carrying them in hand luggage, so that’s okay. But is it okay to carry gels? I have a terrible rash on both legs (waiting for dermatology appointment) and as well as hydrocortisone cream I rub in Aloe Vera gel when it’s itchy.

I have a rod in left arm which didn’t set off the alarm last time, neither did the prosthesis. However, things may be different with the full body scan.

Hubby must look shifty because he always gets searched. We even flew from Anglesey to Cardiff on an 18-seater last year and he had to take off his belt and shoes to be searched. He was trying not to look embarrassed and I was holding the wall up trying not to laugh out loud hahahahaha.

Good luck to us all (and enjoy your holidays).
Maureen xx

Maureen I think gels are treated the same as liquids so ok if in a container of 100mls or less - I’ve been fine with a small tube of toothpaste, which is 50mls I think. If it’s in a big bottle, could you perhaps decant some into a little sample bottle (like the ones I steal from hotels!)?

this is really interesting I must say!

Like you Susana, I am concerned about the external prosthesis showing up - I have 2 of them , and the thought of having to explain is a bit nerve-wracking- I’m having a holiday to try and forget about it all lol!!!
Would like to hear from anyone with external prosthesis and how they got on!


I wear an external prosthesis, and it has never showed up on any scanning machines. The only one that activated the scanner is the spongy one with the weight inside but they warn you of this on the packaging. I just told the security personnel when they took me to the side what it was and she ushered me through, so no hassle.
I am due to have reconstruction soon so hope not to have this problem anymore.

Hope this helps

Carolyn x

maureen like finty suggested i have travelled with aqueous cream for radiation rash, brufen gel for cording in my arm, and eye drops for post chemo dry eye… my gp wrote prescriptions for samll sized tubes.

also my daughter who has extremey bad eczema and requires 4 different creams travelled recently across europe and russia on ryan air, easyjet, whizzair etc with the creams in her hand luggage again the gp prescribed small sized preparation for all except one which only came in a 500ml pot so we decanted some of it into a universal specimen jar (often called a urine sample pot) she encountered no problems with this at all.

good luck and happy holidays all you ladies im also off on my hols to Turkey in 4 weeks… hopefully ill be fully on the mend after my hysterectomy.


Aw, thanks ladies, I feel reassured now. I have a “sample” bottle in my bag as we speak so I’ll decant gel into that.

Forgot to mention earlier, for those of us who have lymphoedema, the Lymphoedema Support Network recommend that we wear both compression sleeves on affected arm during flights. O Joy!!

Maureen xx

This is an interseting thread. I’m due to fly off for a couple of days from Gatwick in a few weeks-was prepared with the info on liquids, but hadn’t even thought about creams, gels and pills, so its very useful to read that in time to decant to smaller containers, and tear of the prescription. I also hadn’t considered the scanners- I’m slightly nervous about them now, but pays to be prepared!
Maureen, do you mean one on top of each other? Thanks
C x