Published: Nov 18, 2010 12:00 AM EST
Updated: Nov 17, 2010 8:49 PM EST

WASHINGTON - Even the head of the Transportation Security Administration gets a pat-down at the airport.  And John Pistole acknowledged today to a Senate panel that it's more invasive than what travelers had been used to.

Still, Pistole said the complaints he's heard will not change the new - and controversial - security methods.

Many travelers have complained the new pat-down methods amount to sexual assault.  Others claim new full-body scanners reveal intimate details of a person's body, or could pose a health risk.

Pistole says he understands the concerns being raised by travelers, but adds that the government needs to provide the best security for travelers.

Pistole was testifying about TSA policies and procedures. The hearing was scheduled before the recent outrage about airport security pat-downs.

A recent CBS poll found 80% of airline passengers surveyed were okay with the new body scanners.  However, protests are planned at some airports the day before Thanksgiving - typically seen as the busiest travel day of the year.

Not all airports have received the new scanner, including Southwest Florida International.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)