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8914 North Knoxville Avenue
Peoria, IL 61615

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"I Can Now Do More, Enjoy More, Experience More."

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People in Central Illinois are taking charge of their health and their lives, by choosing to undergo bariatric surgery through UnityPoint Health. 

Bariatric surgery is known for its health benefits: less risk of and reversing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and blood clots. Dr. Jay Salimath, bariatric surgeon for UnityPoint Health, says there are many more quality of life improvements: a decrease in healthcare costs, improvement in fertility and fewer cases of depression. 

UnityPoint Health offers three bariatric surgery options for patients: Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RNYGB), Lap-Band® and Sleeve Gastrectomy.

“We will recommend which procedure we feel works best based on your health conditions,” said Dr. Salimath. “Ultimately, you are in control of deciding which surgery you want to pursue.” 

Salimath stresses that bariatric surgery is not an end-all, be-all solution for weight loss. Before surgery, patients need to make a serious commitment to changing their lifestyle. 

“Weight loss surgery is a treatment tool. You will need power, support and a plan to be successful. Together we will identify your barriers and our team will give you the tools to overcome them. However, your success depends on your commitment and support system.”

Vickie Maher started noticing extreme weight gain when she turned 40 and was going through menopause. 

“I had put on so much weight, I didn’t look like me anymore. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself.” 

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At her heaviest weight, Maher experienced pain all over and everyday activities were a struggle. After trying fad diets without success, she consulted with Dr. Salimath and her loved ones about the options she could pursue with bariatric surgery. In January 2018, she had a Sleeve Gastrectomy procedure.

“I was surprised at how easy it was to physically recover. I had my surgery Tuesday, went home Thursday, and was back to work Friday.” 

Maher says she feels better mentally than she has in decades. She credits her success to her support system: her husband, counselor, Dr. Salimath and the bariatric support group. 

“Having access to the support group made the process easy. It helps with all the unknown: questions, remedies, best practices and information. This is an important part of the journey.” 

Another patient, Debra Inman, chose bariatric surgery to improve several health conditions that were limiting her daily. 

“I had difficulty breathing, felt fatigued, and had a lot of knee pain,” said Inman. “I had arthritis in my joints and had to take a narcotic daily to manage the pain.” 

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Inman says pain made it difficult for her to get exercise and she had a complicated relationship with food. 

“Food made me feel better until after I ate, then it depressed me.” 

With the help of her daughter, Dr. Salimath and support groups, Inman had a Sleeve Gastrectomy procedure in January 2019. She says she’s 75% of the way to meeting her weight loss goal and is now more mindful of what she puts in her body. 

“Losing weight has helped me tremendously with pain. It’s helped me to not only look better, but also helped build my confidence back up. I am able to go shopping and do things around the house and yard that were too difficult for me with the extra weight.”

Both patients say having their procedures at UnityPoint Health was a smooth process and they appreciate the resources available through staff and support groups. 

“I can now do more, enjoy more, experience more,” said Maher. “I would do this again in a heartbeat. Dr. Salimath and his team are wonderful.” 

“I chose to have surgery at UnityPoint Health because I’ve always felt comfortable and safe because of the excellent staff there,” added Inman. “The staff was very helpful and kind, monitoring me very closely every step of the way.” 

Before you can receive bariatric surgery at UnityPoint Health, you must attend a mandatory Weight Loss Seminar. The seminar is currently available online. 

Learn More About Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery