Credit: Beauty Pro Division

A study has shown that Australian women who went under the knife usually have unrealistic expectations of cosmetic surgery and the risks involved.

According to the survey of women by the Australian National University (ANU), the complaints range from having facelifts that were too tight, and nose jobs that did not match the computer image shown before surgery, to having fitted with breast implants that were too big for them.

It would be wrong to say, 'if women go into cosmetic surgery they can get exactly what they want', said Associate Professor Rhian Parker, author and ANU health sociologist.

There are TV programs showing us people being transformed: it doesn't show us the risks involved.

In some instances, women seeking facelifts were also recommended eyelifts, or other procedures, just so the surgeon could improve profit margins.

Prof Parker remarked, Morally, I think that's an issue.

It's very difficult to say, 'no, I don't want that', if a doctor in a position of authority suggests something.

Many of the 32 women interviewed in Victoria had made the choice to get surgery in secret, sometimes without consulting their GPs, said Prof Parker, author of Women, Doctors and Cosmetic Surgery: Negotiating the 'Normal' Body.

They often don't tell close family and friends they're getting plastic surgery, said Prof Parker.

The interview of 19 medical specialists, including plastic and cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists and GPs was also conducted.

Prof Parker said the public required more information on who carried out the procedures, and the differing qualifications of specialists.

Cosmetic surgery need to move from the peripheral shadows of medicine to be made accountable so consumers could make more informed choices.

Women considering cosmetic surgery were advised to ask a prospective practitioner how many procedures they performed per year, if complaints have ever been made, the possible risks associated with a procedure and how long a recovery was likely to take, said Prof Parker.

They should ideally interview at least three surgeons. Over the years, tens of thousands cosmetic procedures have been performed and the figures keep rising, research suggests.