What is SSBI?

Formerly known as Breast Implant Illness (BII), SSBI is a term used to describe a collection of rare symptoms some individuals with breast implants experience. It stands for systemic symptoms associated with breast implants. While not officially recognized as a medical diagnosis, many patients have reported symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, brain fog, joint pain, anxiety, and more after undergoing breast augmentation surgery.

Michael Howard M.D. provides breast implant removal procedures to address SSBI. He is a board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction expert with years of experience, serving patients in the Chicago area for almost 20 years. Dr. Howard prioritizes patient satisfaction, and he believes that removing your breast implants where SSBI is suspected is an important decision to take. He provides expert care for patients in the areas of Lake Forest, Chicago, and Glenview. 

For more information about SSBI, and to book a personal consultation with Dr. Howard, call (224) 271-4250 or contact us online.

Before and After Photos

About SSBI

Doctors are still unsure about the precise link between SSBI and breast implants. Some believe that an autoimmune response or inflammation caused by the breast implants may be to blame. (1) It is also possible for bacteria to develop on the surface of the implants, causing infection. SSBI can occur in patients with silicone or saline implants, so the type of implant does not seem to be a decisive cause. Patients have reported developing symptoms immediately after they receive breast implants while others report issues several years later

Systemic Symptoms Associated with Breast Implants

SSBI symptoms may include:

  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Brain Fog
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Vision Problems
  • Hair Loss
  • Skin Conditions
  • Chronic Pain

Breast Implant Removal

Breast implant removal is a surgical procedure that can treat SSBI at its source. It can be done for medical purposes as well as cosmetic, in which the breast implants are replaced by implants of differing size and shape. In the case of SSBI, it involves removing or replacing implants and at times performing a breast lift to reconform them to a natural implant-free size and shape. Although SSBI is a rare condition with unknown etiology, breast implant removal has proven to be the most effective solution. (2)

To perform breast implant removal, Dr. Howard makes incisions along the scars from the original breast augmentation surgery to avoid additional scarring. Once he removes the implants, he will remove excess skin, fat, and tissue in order to resize and reshape the breasts into an aesthetically pleasing form. This aspect of breast implant removal can be an opportunity to improve the symmetry and general appearance of the breasts in comparison to the patient’s pre-implant breasts. 

Benefits of Breast Implant Removal

Receiving breast implant removal may provide benefits related to SSBI as well as some general lifestyle improvements. These include:

  • Relief from symptoms: Patients may experience relief from a range of symptoms associated with SSBI, such as fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, and more.
  • Improved quality of life: With explantation, patients may enjoy an improved overall quality of life, allowing them to engage in daily activities with more vitality and comfort.
  • Enhanced well-being: Treatment for SSBI may lead to a significant enhancement in overall well-being, both physically and mentally.
  • Restored confidence: As symptoms improve and health is restored, patients often find a renewed sense of confidence and self-assurance.
  • Increased mobility: Relief from SSBI symptoms may result in increased mobility and a greater ability to participate in physical activities.

Who is a Candidate for Breast Implant Removal?

If you suspect SSBI may be the cause of your symptoms, a breast implant removal procedure could be the solution. Ideal candidates for addressing SSBI concerns are individuals who prioritize their health and well-being and seek expert advice on breast implant safety. While the decision to undergo explant surgery is deeply personal, a thorough discussion with Dr. Howward can provide clarity and guidance on potential treatment options for breast implant-related issues. 

Personal Consultation

At your personal consultation, Dr. Howard will perform a breast examination. You can discuss your symptoms and he will determine if breast implant removal is the best option for you. He will run some medical tests to rule out any possible alternative causes for your symptoms, as well as to ensure that cosmetic surgery is a safe choice. He will also want a detailed description of your medical history, including all past surgeries, prescriptions, and conditions. If implant removal is the best choice for your circumstances, you can discuss how you want him to reconstruct your breasts in terms of size and shape. He will create a personalized treatment plan for you and give you an accurate cost estimate. At the end of your consultation, we can arrange your procedure appointment. To schedule your personal consultation, call (224) 271-4250 or fill out this form.


Preparing for breast implant removal is an important step in the treatment process. Dr. Howard will give you personalized instructions based on your particular symptoms and your medical history. These may include changes to your prescriptions. Before your procedure, you should lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol, as these substances can lead to complications and affect healing. Refrain from taking blood-thinning substances like ibuprofen and vitamin E, as these can cause excess bleeding during surgery. You should also prepare your home for recovery. You will need lots of rest and will have limited mobility, so place everything you might need within reach and stock up on healthy groceries. Don’t forget to arrange a ride home from our facilities. 

Breast Implant Removal Procedure

When you arrive for your breast implant removal procedure, we will administer general anesthesia to prevent discomfort. Dr. Howard will begin by making the incisions. He will replicate the shape of your existing scar tissue to avoid creating additional scarring. He will then remove your breast implants. Finally, he will remove the excess skin, fat, and tissue necessary to reshape your breasts into their new size. When your surgery is complete, we will make sure that you recover properly from the anesthesia. In most cases, breast implant removal surgeries are outpatient procedures, so you may go home when you are ready. 


During the first week of your recovery, you should focus on rest and relaxation. Avoid strenuous physical activity and drink plenty of water. You may experience some redness and bruising around your treatment area. This is normal and should go away on its own. During the second week, you may return to everyday activities, including going back to work if it is not physically demanding. Keep avoiding activities that may put stress on your breasts. It can take several weeks to months to fully recover from this procedure. Dr. Howard will schedule some check-up appointments to see how you are healing. If you experience any abnormal symptoms, do not hesitate to contact us. 


Your breasts will be swollen for several weeks after your breast implant removal, but you will still be able to see the essential appearance of your new breasts soon after the procedure. The cosmetic effects of this treatment will be long-lasting. Eating healthy and staying active can help to prolong these results even further. Many patients report losing their SSBI symptoms immediately after their treatment. For others, it can take several months before their symptoms subside. 

How Much Does Breast Implant Removal Cost in Chicago?

The expenses associated with treating SSBI can vary significantly based on individual circumstances. The cost of your breast implant removal will depend on the details of your treatment plan. To learn more about how much breast implant removals costs with Dr. Howard, call (224) 271-4250 or visit our contact page. 


How can I treat my SSBI?

SSBI still needs thorough research from scientists and doctors. Surgeons utilize their expertise and experience to identify potential factors contributing to SSBI symptoms to develop treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs. In some cases, patients may seek breast implant removal to reduce or eliminate symptoms. 

How long do breast implant removal procedures take to complete?

Depending on the condition of your breasts and the reconstruction techniques involved with your treatment plan, breast implant removal can take from one to three hours to complete.

Will my breasts go back to normal after my breast implant removal?

Your initial breast augmentation with implants likely stretched the skin on your breasts beyond the point of reformation. In this case, you will need to receive breast lift treatment once your implants have been removed to ensure that your breasts do not have excess or sagging skin. Breast lifts involve removing excess skin, fat, and tissue from the breast, as well as reconstructing the breast to be aesthetically optimal. This is often included as a part of the breast implant removal procedure. 


  1. Wee CE, Younis J, Isbester K, et al. Understanding Breast Implant Illness, Before and After Explantation. Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2020;85(S1):S82-S86. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/SAP.0000000000002446 
  2. Cohen Tervaert J, Mohazab N, Redmond D, van Eeden C, Osman M. Breast implant illness: scientific evidence of its existence. Expert Review of Clinical Immunology. Published online December 9, 2021. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/1744666x.2022.2010546 
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