At 14, Sonia Van Burgsteden was unhappy with her body. She would look enviously at her sister’s generous bust and dream about curves of her own. When they never came, she made the decision to one day have cosmetic surgery.

Last May, at the age of 24, Van Burgsteden went under the knife for the first time, getting breast augmentation that turned her 34 As into 34 DDs.

“I’ve always mentioned that I wanted big boobs, with my friends, with my boyfriend, everyone basically. I’m not shy about it,” Van Burgsteden says.

“Ever since I got my plastic surgery, I have been happier with myself — my overall self-esteem and self-confidence has improved. I always felt beautiful on the inside,” she says, “but now I feel beautiful on the outside as well.”

More and more millennials, the generation born after 1980 and now aged 18 to 30, are opting for cosmetic surgery, driving demand for procedures such as breast augmentation, rhinoplasty — known more familiarly as a nose job – and, in males at least, breast reduction.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports in 2011, just under 800,000 cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. on people in their 20s, an increase of six per cent from the year before. Since 2000, the total number of cosmetic procedures has risen 87 per cent over all age groups, totalling 13.8 million in 2011.

Even teenagers are going under the knife. In 2011, the ASPS recorded 230,617 operations on Americans aged 13 to 19, accounting for two per cent of all plastic surgeries in the U.S. and an increase of five per cent from the year before (although the numbers are still shy of prerecession highs).

While the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons — unlike its American cousin — does not gather statistics, surgeons on this side of the border say they are seeing the same trend.

Dr. Michael Weinberg of Toronto Plastic Surgery Clinic says the number of patients he sees under 30 has doubled in the past 10 years. He says millennial Canadians are getting plastic surgery younger than previous generations.

The most common procedure among teens and young adults is nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), which starts at $7,500 at one Toronto clinic. Breast reduction in men is the second most common procedure. It costs anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000, but is often covered by health plans. Breast augmentation, which starts at $7,000, is the third most common procedure. Also popular are ear surgeries and liposuction.

But the growth of cosmetic surgery among young Canadians is not without its critics. Dr. Miriam Kaufman, head of adolescent medicine at SickKids — Toronto’s The Hospital for Sick Children — says young bodies change dramatically through their teens, making it a less-than-ideal time to undergo plastic surgery. A child’s body weight doubles from the age of 10 to 18, and growth can occur into the 20s, she adds.

“I think young people, men and women, really feel bad about their bodies and how they look and often have the idea that if they change how they look, their lives are going to be better, which is usually not the case,” says Dr. Kauffman. Through her work, she has met several teenagers who wanted plastic surgery to deal with body image issues.

The younger people are, the more susceptible they are to celebrity images and body types in the media, Dr. Kaufman adds. These images create unrealistic expectations of what a person should look like.

Dr. Frank Lista of The Plastic Surgery Clinic in Toronto, says 40 per cent of his patients are under 30. He adds more operations are being performed on young people simply because there has been an increase in plastic surgery across all age groups.

Both Dr. Lista and Dr. Weinberg say they have experienced ethical dilemmas when dealing with these younger patients. They say they have performed breast augmentations on patients as young as 16 — “special cases” in which the parents were consenting and the girls were each past puberty (though the doctors insist it’s not the norm to operate on people so young).

“I hope we don’t continue to do more and more surgery on younger patients. I hope we all use our good judgement,” Dr. Weinberg says.

After deciding on plastic surgery, Van Burgsteden waited 10 years before having the operation. She said people should take their time when deciding whether cosmetic enhancement is right for them.

“If you’re not comfortable in your skin, I’m not saying don’t love yourself, I’m saying do something that makes you happy,” she adds.

This feature was produced by Carly Thomas, a student in Ryerson University's School of Journalism, in partnership with The Huffington Post Canada.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • Sharon Osbourne

    "I wish I'd never had my breasts done the last time," she told New Magazine. "They've put these bloody great bags in that are too f***ing round--it's like a water bed on your chest."

  • Denise Richards

    "When I was 19, a doctor put in bigger implants than what I asked for. I was in such a hurry to get them that I didn't research my doctor," Richards told Us Weekly. "I just thought because they're a plastic surgeon, they must be good. You have to be your advocate for your own body and ask 100 questions." Later Richards wrote: "At 19 when I first got my breasts done, I wish that I was confident enough with my body to not have had surgery. That is something that I really want to encourage in my daughters, to embrace their healthy body and have confidence. I actually feel more confident in my skin now than in my 20's. Being confident is one of the sexiest qualities a woman can exude."

  • Jenny McCarthy

    "Me and my friends found a doctor in Arizona that cost about $1,500 to get our boobs done--because they didn't use anesthesia and I didn't know it," McCarthy told WENN. In a later interview with Us Weekly, the former playmate said she was "too young" when she got her implants at 19.

  • Victoria Beckham

    In an interview with British Vogue, Victoria was asked about the absence of her "torpedo bazookas", to which the former Spice Girl reportedly replied, "gone".

  • Kimberly Stewart

    In an interview with Now Magazine, Kimberly states her famous father was supportive of his daughter when she had the implants put in at 18, and even more supportive when she decided to get rid of them. She recalls, "He's very supportive of whatever I do. He was just like, 'If you don't feel comfortable, if you don't feel safe, just get them removed.'"

  • Kourtney Kardashian

    When she was 22, she got surgery to go from a B-cup to a C-cup. "It was so dumb... I just got the idea in my head one day, and that was that. There was no talking me out of it," said Kardashian in an interview with Us Weekly.

  • Danielle Staub

    Last year, Staub had another surgery to correct a botched boob job she got done when she was younger. "She was very upset with her breasts," her doctor, Michael Fiorillo told, Us Weekly. "Scar tissue formed around the breast implant and that makes the implants hard, cold and deformed...the right one was almost up by her neck!"

  • Kim Zolciak

    Kim got her breast implants at age 20. Looking at pictures of herself on vacation in Miami last year, Zolciak couldn't believe what she saw. "My boobs looked crazy and saggy," she revealed to In Touch.

  • Heidi Montag

    The Hills star -- now a size "E or F" depending on the bra had a staggering 10 procedures done in one day. "I'm obsessed with fitness but it's impossible to work out with these boobs," Montag told Life and Style Magazine. "It's heartbreaking. I can't live an everyday life."

  • Jenna Jameson

    "When I had implants, I felt uncomfortable," the former porn star told Us Weekly. "I would be shy at the beach. I know it sounds funny, but I'd wear high-necked clothes, unless I was at an adult-film convention. So I thought, 'why don't I be who I am and get my real ones back?'"

  • Tara Reid

    "I was a 34B, but the right one was always bigger than the left," she told Us Weekly. "He gave me Cs, and I didn't want them. At all."

  • Tori Spelling

    "Well, I got my boobs done in my early 20s," Spelling told Good Morning America. "If I had known that it would or could possibly impact production of milk, I wouldn't have had them. I love being a mom. I am on my third baby. We want to have more. That's my role... these don't matter."