Advanced body composition analysis delivered by the UK’s most experienced practitioners
What is a body scan?
A DEXA scan is a body composition test and universally regarded as the best way to measure body fat and your overall body composition. It’s a medical-grade technology used in hospitals and sports science research facilities. It uses a very low dose of dual energy X-ray beams to give an accurate and precise measurement of body fat, lean mass and bone.
If you’re just beginning a diet or fitness programme, or looking to change your body composition, then now is the perfect time for a DEXA body fat scan because it will give you the most accurate and precise picture of where you’re starting from. Follow-up scans will track your progress by showing the changes in body fat and muscle in your arms, legs and trunk region.
Your Bodyscan report will also see your internal visceral fat and the risk it poses to your health. Fat around the internal organs is linked with diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and stroke.
How much does a body scan cost?
Please check our pricing page for current prices of a DEXA scan and pre-paid DEXA packages in our London centres.
As at January 2024 the cost of your first (Baseline) private DEXA scan and face-to-face consultation is £199. Follow-up Progress scans are £149 but you can save a great deal by buying a package in advance.
A DEXA scan package includes the Baseline scan plus one, two or three scans, valid for one year. For example, the VF3 package comprises your first Baseline scan plus two Progress scans and is priced at £379, a saving of £118.
To book your first DEXA scan in London, click here. To buy a package, click here to create an account and then choose your package.
Why choose Bodyscan for your private DEXA body scan?
Bodyscan was the first company in the UK to offer private DEXA body scans to the public, in January 2015. Since that time we have performed over 17,000 scans and have what we believe to be by far the biggest database of DEXA body composition results in Europe. This depth and breadth of experience and data enables us to put your own results into perspective.
Crucially, this massive dataset of private DEXA scan results is from normal people like you from across the UK and not confined to small research samples or samples that are usually young, fit and active students of a sports science faculty – these don’t reflect real life.
Our DEXA technicians are experts in body fat imaging, meaning we can quickly interpret your DEXA scan results and explain what they mean for you, as well as giving you sound advice on how to reach your goals. The report contains a wealth of data and goes far beyond just body fat percentage. We’ll introduce and explain all the other key metrics on the report, which are better measures of your body fat, muscle mass and how they’re distributed around your body.
This short video briefly explains the benefits of a DEXA scan and why Bodyscan is the best place to have it.
We are based within two well-established, easy-to-reach, high-end private medical clinics in London (W1 and the City) and are fully compliant with the relevant regulations on ionising radiation, and have been awarded a ‘Good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the national regulator of all health providers. So if you are looking for a DEXA scan in London, book online now and we could be testing your body composition as early as tomorrow. If you need one today, give us a call and we’ll try and fit you in!
How long does a DEXA body scan take?
The DEXA scan is a quick and painless procedure and is over in less than four minutes – Bodyscan uses the fastest scanning technology from Hologic, while older DEXA models and those from other manufacturers take seven minutes or more.
Although the actual scan is short, your first (Baseline) appointment will be for an hour so we can take you through the report and discuss your fat-loss or muscle-building goals and objectives, and to give you your calorie targets and a timeline to reach your final goal.
When you have a follow-up scan to check your progress, the scan is the same but there is no detailed consultation, so the appointment is just 20 minutes. One of the pages of your Progress report will show precise changes in body fat and lean mass between that scan and up to five previous scans. Here’s that page from a female customer who lost 18.8kg (41lbs or 3 stone) of body fat in a year.
What is the procedure?
Having a private DEXA body scan is quick, comfortable and completely safe (the dose of X-ray is equivalent to less than one day’s normal background radiation).
You’ll lie on a padded mattress in your underwear, light sportswear or supplied gown while a scanning arm passes over the length of your body three times. The whole scan takes less than four minutes. It’s not intrusive or claustrophobic and completely pain free. In fact, many Bodyscan clients say they find the experience so relaxing they sometimes fall asleep! You can see the DEXA machine in action at 2’24” in this video.
After the scan and while you’re getting dressed again, your Bodyscan consultant will spend a minute analysing the scan and then print out your DEXA scan results showing your body composition in detail. If it’s your first (Baseline) scan with us, your consultant will sit down with you and take you through the report in detail to make sure you understand everything and give you the opportunity to ask any questions. Follow-up (Progress) scans include an automatic comparison with previous scans within the report to show precise changes in body fat and lean body mass.
Does the DEXA body scan measure bone density and osteoporosis?
This is a frequent question and the short answer is ‘no’ (but it depends on your objectives). If your prime reason for having the DEXA scan is low bone density or osteoporosis, then please do NOT book a body scan with us.
Whilst the machine is the same for measuring bone density and body composition, they are two very different types of scan. The Bodyscan report DOES give a good indication of your bone density but this is only an indication and not a definitive, diagnosable result. In other words, it’s not a result a doctor would make any firm decisions on.
Nevertheless, if the indication was unusually high or low then we would advise you see your GP or a bone specialist for specialist advice.
However, if your primary reason for coming to Bodyscan is your body composition (which it should be!) then the indication of your bone density is certainly very useful to know. As your bone density is unknown (until you break a bone or have a bone scan) we have had many customers we’ve advised to seek specialist medical attention based on the body scan’s bone density indication.
If you require a dedicated bone scan in relation to low bone density and osteoporosis, you can request these from your GP or get one privately. Our host clinic in Marylebone, London Medical, performs these one day a week and you can arrange them by calling 08000 483 330. For facilities local to you, Google ‘private DEXA bone scan’.
Can I have a DEXA scan during my period?
It’s perfectly safe to have a DEXA scan during your menstrual cycle.
(The only ‘condition’ for which you should not have a scan is being pregnant. If you think you may be pregnant, we will not permit you to have a scan.)
However, a scan during or immediately before your period is not advised because you may retain body water that is not present ordinarily. Body water is measured as a component of ‘lean body mass’, which for all intents and purposes is counted as ‘muscle mass’. Lean mass is actually everything that is not fat or bone, so as well as muscle mass it includes your organs, ligaments, tendons, skin – and water.
If you have one scan during your period (or any other time you retain water or experience ‘bloat’) and another scan without the retention, then a drop of, say, 2kg in body water will appear as a drop in lean mass. But it is not the case that you have lost 2kg of skeletal muscle.
We can never really point to changes in lean body mass and say, “it’s all muscle” or “this much is muscle and this much is water.” But it is best practice to be – as far as is possible – in the same physiological state for each scan.
Incidentally, changes in body water will have almost no effect on the DEXA measurement of fat mass,
What is the minimum age to have a scan?
How old do you have to be to have a scan? The minimum age we can scan is 18 years old. Please bring photo ID if you look younger!
What is the maximum height/weight you can scan?
Bodyscan’s DEXA scanner has a maximum weight limit of 190kg (that’s 418 pounds or 29 stone).
If you are very heavy and very large, your whole body will probably not fit within the width of the scanning table. The DEXA software is ready for this and enables us to position you with your left arm outside the scanning area, and then mirrors the data from your right arm to your left. This is standard practice for clients who are physcially very big.
You can see from the image below how the client’s left arm is off the table, and the data is identical for left arm and right arm in the table below.
Height is not an issue. Although the table has a scanning length of about 192cm (about 6’3″), if you are taller than this we will leave part of your head outside of the scanning area. This is fine because we are interested in the composition of your body, not your head!
The scan image below shows a man of 198cm, with part of his head outside the scanning area.
How long does the DEXA scan take?
The actual scan takes less than four minutes but your first appointment with a consultation (the Baseline scan) lasts up to an hour. It is to ensure you fully understand everything in the report, interpret your personal results and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.
When you have a follow-up scan to check your progress, the scan is exactly the same but there is no detailed consultation. The appointment is just 20 minutes, which is enough time to briefly discuss what progress you have made since your previous scan.
One of the pages of your Progress report will show precise changes in fat and lean mass between your latest scan and the previous scans (up to five previous scans).
Can I have my scans at both/either location?
It is a universal recommendation that all your scans take place on the same machine at the same location for the most reliable comparison between scans.
Even though our two scanners are very closely calibrated, we do not recommend that you regularly switch between machines.
Who are your consultants?
Our consultants are currently Philip, Rob and Kevin, and there is more about each of them under Contact > Meet the Team or click here.
If you would like your appointment with a specific consultant, please drop an email to [email protected] and we’ll let you know when they are working. Unfortunately it’s not possible to specify a particular consultant during the online booking process.
Can I have a DEXA scan if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is absolutely fine to have a scan while breastfeeding.
However, it is NOT OK to have a scan while pregnant. We will ask you to confirm your pregnancy status and will not scan you if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
Who is a DEXA body scan for?
Bodyscan is for EVERYONE looking to get in better shape or achieve weight loss or better performance. A lot of people think all our customers are athletes, but they are not! Far from it. In fact, most of our customers are overweight and looking to lose fat.
60% of our clients are men, 40% are women, and they range from 18-80 years old. Whatever your circumstances and reasons for wanting to know or track your body composition (fat loss or muscle gain) rest assured you will feel completely comfortable and our consultants will be supportive and non-judgmental.
Please take a look through some of our outstanding reviews from people just like you on our home page.
What type of DEXA scans do you offer?
Bodyscan offers DEXA body composition scans, to accurately and precisely measure your body composition – your fat mass, lean mass and bone mass.
In other words, we tell you how much of you is body fat, how much is lean (essentially muscle) and bone.
We DO NOT provide DEXA bone density (or BMD) scans. The body scan will provide some information about your bone density but it is just an indication, not a definitive, diagnosable result. Please read this article for more information.
How do I prepare for a DEXA scan?
To prepare for the scan, please do not eat (or eat very light) for four hours beforehand and be normally hydrated with water, tea, etc. Don’t over- or under-drink.
Also, do not do any heavy exercise (eg, a gym workout or long run) for the same period.
Please remove as much jewellery as you can before you arrive at the clinic. After you have checked in, empty your bladder before being called.
It’s best if you are in the same state for every scan for the most reliable comparison.
Can I have a DEXA scan with a Pacemaker or metal implants?
If you have any implants of any material or a Pacemaker, again, don’t worry, the scan can go ahead as normal. Metal implants will show up as dense bone on your Bodyscan report but they will not affect the fat and lean data. There is no risk to the operation of your Pacemaker.
Metal implants/piercings will show up as dense bone on your Bodyscan report but they will not affect the fat and lean data. There is no risk to the structure of operation of your implant.
If you have any implants (like a hip or knee replacement) of any material or jewellery or piercings you cannot remove, or a Pacemaker or Cochlear ear implant, don’t worry, the scan can go ahead as normal.
The DEXA is a very-low-dose X-ray, and X-rays either pass through objects or they do not.
We do ask that you remove as much jewellery as possible, as we want to measure you, not what you’re wearing!
If you have any more questions or concerns regarding the DEXA Scan, please see our FAQs here.
My doctor has advised a DEXA scan. Can you do it?
If your doctor has advised a DEXA scan, then it is highly likely that they want you to have a bone density scan to detect osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Bodyscan does not perform bone density scans, only body composition scans.
However, if your doctor wants to know about your body fat and body composition (perhaps he is advising you to lose weight) then we are definitely the place for that! You don’t need a separate referral from your doctor (unless you have or are recovering from an eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia), just make your Baseline booking online.
Can I have a female consultant or a chaperone?
All our consultants are currently male so unfortunately we can’t offer you a female at this time.
However, we do operate a chaperone policy so you can bring someone with you, or we can arrange for a female member of staff to be in the room.
Please note that if you bring your own chaperone, they can be with you during the whole appointment. If you request a member of clinic staff, they can only be in the scanning room during your welcome chat, while you get changed (behind a privacy curtain) and during the scan. They will not be able to stay for the post-scan consultation.
Please email us in advance of your requirement if you need us to provide a chaperone.
Can I bring someone/children with me?
If you would like to bring a friend, relative or child with you, they can be with you during the introduction and the consultation but not during the scan itself, which is about four minutes.
(If you are bringing an adult friend with you, who is interested in body composition, please remember we provide Baseline scans for two people, so you might want to consider that!)
You can bring a child (infant, toddler or older) with you to the appointment but please remember that the post-scan consultation during the first (Baseline) scan requires your and our consultant’s attention and focus for 45-50 minutes, so we respectfully ask for your child’s good behaviour please 🙂 We will not be able to give the consultation with the distraction of a crying baby/toddler.
Young children can stay in the room during the 4-minute scan by standing with the consultant behind the safety screen. Older children and others must wait outside in the waiting area while the scan takes place.
A chaperone, nurse or carer can be with you during the scan if required. They will have to sign a form to remain in the room during the scan. It would be helpful if you could drop us an email ([email protected]) and let us know in advance.
Our operators are male, so if you require a female chaperone to be provided please let us know and we will arrange for a female member of staff from our host clinics to join you. Again, please let us know in advance because it can be difficult to find a chaperone at very short notice. Thank you.
How frequently can I have a DEXA scan?
We recommend about 12-16 weeks (3-4 months) between scans. This is long enough for changes in body composition to have occurred and for you to know that you can stick to your plan; and short enough to keep you motivated and give you a short-term target.
If you’re on a more ambitious plan, especially for fat-loss, then we can scan you every eight weeks. We cannot scan less than eight weeks (56 days) after your previous appointment.
Is a DEXA scan uncomfortable or claustrophobic?
A DEXA body scan is non-intrusive and completely pain free, so there is no need to be anxious or nervous. There are no injections and nothing is attached to you. In fact, many Bodyscan clients say they find the experience calming and relaxing and sometimes fall asleep!
You will lie on a padded mattress and a scanning arm will pass over you three times. The DEXA machine is not like an MRI or CT ‘doughnut’ scanner in that you do not go ‘inside’ the machine. So don’t worry if you suffer from claustrophobia, you will not feel any sense of confinement at all. The scanning arm passes at least 30cm (12 inches) away from your body.
You will need to remain still during the scan but you should be relaxed and breathe normally. Relax and imagine you are lying on the beach! The scan itself takes less than four minutes and the Bodyscan operator will be in the room with you and can stop the scan immediately if you feel uncomfortable.
The actual scan takes less than four minutes but your first appointment with a consultation lasts up to an hour. It is to ensure you fully understand everything in the report, interpret your personal results and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.
When you have a follow-up scan to check your progress, the scan is exactly the same but there is no detailed consultation. The appointment is just 20 minutes, which is enough time to briefly discuss what progress you have made since your previous scan. One of the pages of your Progress report will show precise changes in fat and lean mass between your latest scan and the previous scans (up to five previous scans).
Are DEXA body scans safe?
The DEXA scan uses a tiny dose of ionising radiation (X-rays) to measure your body composition. To put the dose and the risk in perspective, it is equivalent to eating 50 grams of Brazil nuts, and less than one day’s normal background radiation that we each receive every day from outer space and the earth’s natural radiation.
To put it another way, you are effectively having a DEXA body scan every day without even knowing it. The dose is so low that the Care Quality Commission describes the risk from the radiation dose of a body scan as “negligible”. This chart shows dose comparisons (a DEXA bodyscan is the same as a dental X-ray, at 0.005mSv).
If you want more detail, please watch this video:
What do I wear for the body scan?
Men – Nearly all men have the scan in their underwear, though if you prefer you can ask for a hospital gown. You can get changed in privacy behind a curtain. (Our consultants are currently all male.)
Women – You should wear loose-fitting sports clothing, such as cotton shorts and a sports top or T-shirt. Or you can change into our hospital gown in a curtained changing area for privacy. Underneath the gown you can wear your bra (wired or sports) and underpants.
Do not wear anything too restrictive or tight-fitting, such as lycra or figure-hugging clothes.