Now, government officials say 16 airports around the nation will be testing some new explosive-detecting equipment that may limit the need for these intrusive searches.
In the meantime, they're revising screening procedures, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.
The TSA changed its patdown policy after more than 200 women complained they had been groped. Patricia Sturm, whose insulin pump often sets off the metal detector, was asked to step aside in the Newark Airport for what she says was a patdown.
What she got, she says, was a "breast exam" and then some.
"While I'm standing there in the spread eagle position she's feeling my breasts, (and) she's like, 'What's this?'" says Sturm. "I'm like, 'That's my breast! What do you think it is?'"
As reports, the new rules slightly change the policy. Now, only women who set off the alarm while being wanded or whose clothing appears misshapen will be subject to a full patdown.
The agent should be female and use the back of her hand. Other patdowns are still permitted but only around the abdomen and back.
When Sturm asked why she was being searched, she was told, "We don't want another Russia to happen."
It's believed that women terrorists, by smuggling plastic explosives under their clothes, caused the crash of two Russian airliners last summer.
"The patdown procedure, which takes place in secondary screening, is necessary for us to get at a specific threat, body-borne explosives," Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Hatfield.
The TSA promises, however, that patdowns are temporary, that brand new equipment straight out of the space-age, will make hands-on searches obsolete.
One machine being tested at JFK fires powerful shots of air and then sniffs the passenger's body heat for traces of explosives.
"I had the feeling I was being fumigated," says one lady about the procedure.
But until these next generation machines are deployed, TSA agents following the new guidelines can still let their fingers do some walking.