Stefanie Donaldson, now 28, was still in high school the first time she asked for a breast reduction. At the time she was 5 feet, 2 inches tall with a 32-DDD chest—“100 pounds and all boobs,” she remembers. She was desperate for relief from the back, neck and shoulder pain on her small frame. But her parents thought it was “crazy” to get surgery that was, in their view, unnecessary.
So Stefanie, who lives in Merrick, New York, did her best to work around her uncomfortably large chest. “Nothing I wore fit correctly. I either had to buy a shirt that was like a circus tent to fit my chest, or I’d look ridiculous spilling out of it.” Shopping for bathing suit tops and bras was even worse. She had to pay three and four times normal prices simply to ensure adequate coverage. And bras had to be replaced every six months.
But worse was the physical and emotional pain. “My day-to-day life was so uncomfortable,” she says. “I couldn’t work out. And I got a lot of unwanted attention.” And the back and shoulder pain continued.
When Stefanie had her son in late 2011, her chest presented a whole new set of problems, as they changed thanks to pregnancy. And as her son grew, they interfered with simple mothering. “I couldn’t even hold my son on my hip. I had to figure out how to do it without my chest getting in the way.”
She made up her mind: The breast reduction was going to happen. She met with Nicholas Bastidas, MD, a plastic surgeon at Northwell Health who had been recommended by a friend, to talk about her candidacy to have excess fat, tissue and skin removed from both breasts. As they discussed how her breast size was compromising her quality of life, she found him easy to talk to, even about such a sensitive issue. “He was very warm and understanding. I was comfortable with him from the moment I met him.”
Stefanie also appreciated Dr. Bastidas’ emphasis that she should prioritize herself. “He offered his opinions on what size would fit my frame the best, so I would be proportioned to the rest of my body,” she explained. “But he also made sure I was going to get the result that I wanted.” Due to her severe back and neck problems, Stefanie was even able to get the procedure covered by insurance.