A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts. Unlike x-rays of other body parts, however, there is no set “normal” appearance of breast tissue. Each breast is uniquely composed of glandular tissue, fibrous tissue, and fat. And, one breast doesn’t even have to match the other! Because of this individuality, it can take time to figure out what is normal for each woman when she starts getting annual screening mammograms. In fact, women are much more likely to be asked to return for additional pictures or an ultrasound after their first mammogram than they are after they’ve had several mammograms. The good news is most of the time this additional testing is negative, or shows benign (non-cancerous) findings. We’ll let you know right away if there are any areas of concern on your first mammogram, and will quickly schedule recommended tests, if necessary.


Compression helps spread breast tissue out to prevent overlapping structures from hiding abnormalities like masses. Compression also helps keep the breasts from moving. Some things, like calcifications, are much easier to see if the breasts are absolutely still during a mammogram exposure. Your breasts will only be compressed as much as you can handle – you are in control of the compression.


Everyone is different, but most women report only pressure – not pain – during a mammogram. Your technologist will work with you to find a level of compression you can handle. If your breasts don’t already hurt on the day of your mammogram, it’s unlikely they’ll hurt after the test. If your breasts are tender on the day of your mammogram, call and reschedule to another day. We’d rather you have a good experience!


We perform a risk assessment on every patient, every year. This is because your medical history – and that of your family – may have changed since your last mammogram. Women at higher-than-average risk of breast cancer may need screening with ultrasound or MRI in addition to a yearly screening mammogram. And, additional questions regarding any possible breast problems are asked to make sure you are getting the right test (meaning, if you feel a new lump you should have an ultrasound in addition to a mammogram).

And, a few tips:

  • Don’t wear deodorant on the day of your mammogram. Deodorant can show up falsely on a mammogram. You can bring deodorant to use after the test, or use the deodorant we provide.
  • Don’t wear a dress to your mammogram appointment. You’ll be asked to change into a gown, so wear separates like a shirt and skirt or pants.
  • If you have long hair, bring a hair tie to pull it back – your hair can end up in the pictures!