Most bariatric surgeries are laparoscopic, which means smaller incisions and shorter recovery times.

When other methods fail, there are several bariatric surgery options.

Linda Price of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, remembers a time when the only thing she used the treadmill in her bedroom for was to hang clothes. Now, a year after weight-loss — or bariatric — surgery helped her lose 78 pounds, Price, 58, walks two to three miles on it every day. “I can’t recall when I could previously cross my legs,” she says. “Now I can.”

At 5’4″ and 233 pounds, Price was obese, which is diagnosed when an adult’s body mass index is 30 or higher.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 79 million U.S. adults — about one in three — are obese. A chronic, progressive disease, obesity raises the risk for a number of health problems, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. According to Ted Trus, MD, associate professor of surgery at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, New Hampshire, obesity is the No. 1 public health problem in Western societies.

Making dietary and behavioral changes needed to reach and maintain a healthy weight can be daunting. For an obese person, “the ability to get back on track is challenging,” says Timothy Farrell, MD, a specialist in minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery at UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, and Price’s surgeon. “With clinical obesity, most patients are unable to achieve adequate lifestyle changes.”

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