Increasingly, the young and overweight are opting to literally staple their stomachs to get married. Bariatric surgeons in the Capital say that at least one of every five clients they get every week is a 20-someone, unmarried overweight and unable to find a match.
Pitampura resident Monika Kataria, 25, who weighed 97 kg till November last year, was rejected thrice by prospective suitors prior to the weight loss surgery. She got married exactly three months after she went under the knife. At the time of her marriage she weighed 71 kg."I would not propagate surgery as the only way to lose weight, but for me there was no option. I had tried all the treatments, diets, exercises but nothing seemed to work," said Kataria.
"I would lose weight and then gain many times more once I stopped gymming or dieting. I was rejected thrice (arranged matrimony proposals), despite being an MBA, good looking and rich. I would have probably died of low confidence had a friend not suggested this surgery," she said.
It did not occur to her that to stay healthy, she needed to exercise and eat healthy all her life. Though bariatric surgery is strictly meant for the morbidly obese who have developed complications such as high BP and diabetes, bariatric surgeons do not think there is anything wrong with young people, as it's just another cosmetic surgery procedure.
"Today, everyone wishes to marry a person who looks presentable. Even the very rich who are morbidly obese find it difficult to find a partner, hence the need to look good," said Dr Pradeep Choubey, director, institute of minimal access, metabolic and bariatric sciences at Max Healthcare.
To cash in on the trend, Max Superspeciality Hospital Saket has even started an initiative to help people who have undergone bariatric surgery find a match.
"People connect best with those who have undergone the same problems. Young patients looking for a partner register themselves with the hospital and we facilitate meetings. Who knows, we might succeed in playing Cupid," said Dr Choubey.
"We are not bowled over when we get surgery requests from younger patients anymore. It's just that these patients require a little more counselling than the rest as they are young and in need for life partners who may or may not be receptive to the idea of weight loss using surgery," said Dr Choubey, who's 20% clientele for weight-loss surgeries are people in their 20's.
"These patients are completely healthy and are fit to reproduce. The only after-effects are five tiny incisions on the stomach, which also fade with time," he added.
Doctors at Sir Gangaram Hospital, which does the second largest volumes of bariatric surgeries in Delhi, also say the trend of young patients willing to undergo surgery to shed flab is on an upward swing.
"There has been an obvious rise in the number of younger patients coming to us for weight loss surgeries. An analyses of our data of 100 patients who underwent weight loss surgeries showed that 78% were cured of diabetes, 62% of their hypertension and over 90% slept better. So besides looking good, life quality also improves manifold," said Dr Sudhir Kalhan, senior consultant, bariatric surgery at Sir Gangaram Hospital.
Neha Gupta, 25, who works with a multi-national company in Delhi, however, did not have any health problems other than being overweight. She weighed almost 100 kg five months ago, now she is 68 kg.
"Since no wedding proposals were coming my way because of my broad frame, my parents forced me to shift base to my home town so that they should supervise my eating habits and help me find a partner," said Gupta.
"But nothing seemed to work. No diets, no workouts, nothing. When a co-passenger in the metro suggested bariatric surgery, it immediately clicked but it took long to convince my parents. Seeing me so desperate, they agreed," she said.
"Now my parents are also happy as proposals have started trickling in," she said.
(Names changed to protect identity)