Minerva Aguilera learned firsthand there is much work to be done by people who have bariatric surgery.

Patients who have a weight loss procedure, from a vertical sleeve gastrectomy to a single incision laparoscopic surgery, have to lower their soda intake and lose weight in small increments to reduce the chance of gallstones forming.

“It was really exciting to hear them talk about all the health improvements they were experiencing and the wonders bariatric surgery have done for their self-esteem,” said Aguilera, 57, of Edinburg, an online Master’s Degree in Nursing – Nursing Education Program student at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.

Aguilera presented her research, “Post-Bariatric Surgery,” at the 13th annual UTB/TSC Research Symposium on Friday, March 25 at the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center on Mexico Boulevard in Brownsville.

More than 200 UTB/TSC faculty members, staff and undergraduate and graduate students will make 87 presentations. The symposium features oral research and poster projects in topics such as architecture, behavioral sciences, chemistry, engineering and humanities.

“There are a number of projects that focus on the community in which we live, Brownsville, border issues, the local economic environment,” said Sandra Gerace, special programs coordinator for the Minority Biomedical Research Support, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program and symposium organizer.

This is the first time Aguilera has presented at the event. She became interested in post-bariatric surgery because some of her relatives and friends have had the procedure done.

Aguilera gathered research by interviewing bariatric surgery coordinators at the McAllen Heart Hospital and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

“Bariatric surgery is currently a very effective surgery for morbid obesity and there is increasing evidence that suggest that it is also a very effective treatment for metabolic diseases such as Diabetes II, hypertension, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea,” said Aguilera.

She also attended bariatric surgery support group sessions and searched professional databases.

“This surgery, like any other surgery, is not risk free,” she said. “I was very touched when I attended the support group sessions and hearing post-bariatric surgery patients say they took the risk because they had so many co-morbidities that would end up shortening their life and also had such a poor quality of life.”

Aguilera has an associate degree in nursing from South Texas College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in school administration all from The University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg.

She formerly taught business courses in the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District and South Texas College before pursuing nursing at Retama Manor Nursing Home in Edinburg.

For more information on the research symposium, contact 956-882-5941 or sandra.gerace@utb.edu.

Daniel Perry is an informational writer at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. For more information, log on to www.utb.edu.