When more than 52,000 adults answered that question in an online survey, 71% of women and 40% of men expressed at least possible interest.
The results surprised researchers including David Frederick, a psychology graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
"Interest in cosmetic surgery is far more widespread than we had anticipated," Frederick says in a news release.
"We know there is tremendous pressure for women to be thin and have a certain appearance, and for men to be fit and muscular, but I would not have guessed that so many people would be interested in surgical body alteration," says Frederick.
His study appears in this month's edition of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
(Would you ever consider plastic surgery? Tell us what you’d have done, and talk with others on WebMD's Cosmetic Procedures: Member to Member board.)
Cosmetic Surgery and Liposuction: Who's Interested
More than 52,000 adults aged 18-65 participated in the survey, which was posted on msnbc.com and elle.com in February 2003.
The survey shows that 48% of women and 23% of men expressed interest in getting cosmetic surgery and/or liposuction if they could afford it.
Also, 23% of women and 17% of men chose this response: "Maybe, ask me again in a few years."
Women were more likely than men to express interest in cosmetic surgery and/or liposuction.
Age didn't change women's interest much, with one exception. Compared with younger women, older women were more likely to express interest in cosmetic surgery instead of saying "maybe, ask me in a few years."
Men and women who admitted often looking in the mirror were more likely to be interested in cosmetic surgery than those who don't check themselves out as much.
Not surprisingly, heavier participants and people who disliked their bodies were more interested in liposuction than lighter participants and people who like their bodies.
But "some very slender individuals expressed an interest in liposuction, suggesting perhaps an unhealthy preoccupation with thinness," Frederick's team writes.
The survey wasn't nationally representative, so the participants' views may not reflect those of other people.