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Getting the body she’s always wanted—and confidence to boot

Stefanie wanted a breast reduction since she was a teen. Finally, she has the body she’s always wanted.

Woman in her late 20s with pink and white off-shoulder top and jeans poses in front of French doors.
After breast reduction surgery, Stefanie can now wear any clothes she likes with ease.

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.

Woman in her late 20s in a pink and white off-shoulder top and jeans with fluffy dog on a couch.
Stefanie says waking up from surgery with an average size chest was like “Christmas morning.”

When she woke up from the January 2015 surgery with a refreshingly average 34C chest, “It was like Christmas morning. I thought, ‘What’s better than this?’ The only negative thought I had was that I shouldn’t have waited so long. Having that surgery was the greatest thing I ever did.”

Since then, Stefanie has been able to live life free of pain as well as unwanted attention. “Just being able to go to a store like the rest of the world and pick up a top and be like, ‘Oh, I can wear this!’ is amazing,” she said. “I don’t have to go to a seamstress and have it reconstructed just to fit my chest. And I don’t have to spend $150 on bras.” She’s finally able to stay fit the way she wants to—including running, which was unthinkable before.

Since then, Stefanie has returned to Dr. Bastidas for liposuction on her stomach, hips, upper and lower back, and arms. She also goes back to him every few months for Botox injections to combat facial wrinkles.

Woman in her late 20s in pink tights and black shirt on an exercise bike.
Before breast reduction surgery, working out was painful. Now it’s enjoyable.

Stefanie says the best part of her new physical self is how it gives her confidence. “I finally have the body I kept working so hard for, but just couldn’t get without plastic surgery.”

“It’s a huge compliment to Dr. Bastidas that I look natural to the point that no one thinks I had anything done,” she says. “I would never let anyone else touch my face or body.”

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