Preparing for a Mammogram

Four women of different ages with pink shirts supporting mammogram preparation - Maiden Lane Medical, NYC

Mammograms are common and critical health screenings that can identify breast cancer long before you could feel a lump yourself. If you’ve scheduled your first mammogram, you might have a few questions about how to prepare.

Generally, you don’t need to do much to prepare for a mammogram. For example, you shouldn’t wear any deodorant or antiperspirant, and you might be more comfortable if you wear a skirt or pants with a top.

Some of the questions we answer regularly include:

Can I use soap before a mammogram?

Yes. You can shower or bathe as normal before your mammogram. Ideally, your skin should be clean and dry for your test. 

Why can’t I wear deodorant during a mammogram?

Deodorant and antiperspirant can show up as white spots on your mammogram. Do you know what else shows up as white on a mammogram? Cancerous or abnormal tissue. If your mammogram has abnormal images, you will need additional testing to determine what caused them. This could include an additional diagnostic mammogram or a biopsy. 

Similarly, body lotion, powder, or perfume can also interfere with your results. Even if these products aren’t directly on your breasts, they can still cause abnormalities in your mammogram images. If you forget and put deodorant or other personal care products on your skin, we have wipes that you can use to clean your skin before your screening. 

Also, if the idea of not wearing deodorant or other products during the day bothers you, you can bring your deodorant, lotion, or perfume along with you and put it on after your test. 

Can I wear makeup during a mammogram?

You can wear cosmetics on your face during your mammogram, but don’t put anything below your jawline. If you use bronzer or body makeup on your chest, you should not put it on before your mammogram. As with your deodorant, you can apply any body cosmetics after your appointment. 

Can I eat before a mammogram?

Unlike many health screening tests, you don’t need to fast before a mammogram. You can eat and drink normally, regardless of the time of your appointment. 

Can I drink coffee before a mammogram?

You can drink coffee before your mammogram, but you might not want to. Caffeine won’t interfere with your mammogram results, but it might increase your breast tenderness and make the test more uncomfortable.

Middle aged woman with a pen and paper thinking about her upcoming mammogram - Maiden Lane Medical, NYC
Beautiful middle age woman learning on the computer about how to prepare for a mammogram - Maiden Lane Medical, NYC

Can I take medication before a mammogram?

Yes, you can take any prescription or over-the-counter medications before your mammogram. In fact, you might want to take a couple of ibuprofen about a half-hour before your appointment. Some patients report that it helps reduce any discomfort. 

What should I wear to a mammogram?

You can wear whatever you want to your appointment. Many of our patients prefer to wear a skirt or pants with a top. You need to remove your shirt and bra for your mammogram, but you can leave your bottoms on. We provide a short gown that opens at the front to help you stay more comfortable during your test. 

If you need a mammogram or have any questions about your procedure, call our office or schedule a consultation online today.