Earlier, I wrote a DEXA scan review after I went under the scanner to find out my body composition.
A DEXA scan is said to be the gold standard for measuring body composition. It’s the most accurate way of measuring your muscle mass, fat percentage and bone density.
If you’re interested in maintaining good health and can afford it you should get a DEXA scan to track the progress of your health and fitness regime (or lack thereof).
There’s one problem, however.
While popular in the US there aren’t many UK DEXA scan services over here.
This article came about on my own quest to have a DEXA scan in the UK and covers where to get one and how much it costs.
First, a little background on it.
What is a DEXA scan?
A DEXA (Dual-energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) scan is a specific type of X-ray machine that provides an accurate measure of your bone density, body fat (including internal visceral fat) and muscle mass.
According to some (good marketing probably), it is the ‘gold standard’ of body composition measurement. However, some say it’s the gold standard of bone density measurement but when it comes to fat percentage and muscle mass it is more an excellent estimate.
Either way, the DEXA scan can provide you data about your body you can’t get elsewhere including skin fold callipers and bioimpedance devices.
The DEXA scan was originally developed to diagnose people with osteoporosis but is increasingly being used in the realms of health, fitness and well-being.
Performance athletes, bodybuilders and fitness buffs are using the DEXA scan to self-track their long term health and body composition.
Where can I get a DEXA scan in the UK?
Assuming you want to use one purely to measure your body composition and not for a bone related condition (which the NHS outlines here) then getting a DEXA scan in the UK may prove difficult.
Why? Because there aren’t that many private UK DEXA scan services available. This may have something to do with the cost of a machine, the cost of a DEXA scan itself (covered below) or just general lack of awareness.
DEXA Scan London
The most well-known DEXA scan provider in the UK is Bodyscan which has two locations in central London. Bodyscan was the first company in the UK to provide the DEXA scan to consumers and is increasingly being featured in the UK health and fitness media as awareness grows.
The video below is an introduction to Bodyscan’s offering.
Another DEXA scan provider based in London is Body Formula, which has locations based all around London but I’m assuming they only have one DEXA scan. There’s not a great deal of information about the levels of service they offer.
DEXA scan Birmingham
The University of Birmingham’s Human Performance Laboratory has a DEXA scan as part of its facilities and resources. It’s unclear however whether this is open to the public to use (for a fee of course).
Universities that have human performance labs often provide services to the public. By doing this, students can get first-hand experience working with people and the university can recuperate some of its costs.
DEXA scan Bristol
Body Composition based in Bristol offer DEXA scans to both athletes and the general public.
They offer a range of packages with the first initial scan at £99. They don’t state if they provide consultancy and advice with your scan so you would need to ask first if you want one.
DEXA scan Scotland
While the clinic’s website doesn’t specifically state that it provides DEXA scans for body composition, the blog post says they will analyse your bone, fat and muscle for a price.
DEXA Scans at Gyms
The UK’s first mobile DEXA scanner for body composition measurements has recently been launched called The DXA Clinic which is a mobile lab that travels around the UK.
The DXA Clinic can be booked on either half day or full day rates by sports clubs, gyms and hospitals.
Can I get a DEXA scan on the NHS?
Short answer, unless you have something wrong for you it’s unlikely you will be able to get a DEXA scan on the NHS for body composition analysis.
The NHS doesn’t treat the healthy or the ‘worried well’ so, while it’s the biggest owner of DEXA scans in the UK, you won’t be using one to track your health and fitness goals.
How much does a DEXA scan in the UK cost?
A UK DEXA scan price is hard to determine given the few providers in the country.
If we take Bodyscan for example, they have a number of different pricing models depending on a few factors:
- Packages: How many sessions you buy
- Consultancy: If you want a consultant to talk you through your results
Using Bodyscan and its tiered system a DEXA scan UK cost can range anywhere from £100 to £139 depending how many sessions you buy and whether you want to speak to a consultant after the scan.
I paid £99 with Bodyscan around a year ago but that was because the company was training staff on how to use the machine and talk through results. Essentially I paid a guinea pig rate but I still received a good service.
Bodyscan offer discounts when you sign up for the service.
According to the blog post linked to above, the Edinburgh Clinic charge £190 per scan usually although there is mention of a 20% discount. Bear in mind, the blog is from 2014 so the service and price may be different now.
To get a DEXA scan in the UK it’s likely you’ll pay anywhere from £100 to £190 depending on how many you buy, your location and whether you want to speak to a consultant about your results.
In other words, to have a DEXA scan in the UK is not cheap but as more companies offer it as a service to consumers across the country the price will come down.