Although it certainly sounds like something you don’t want, a buffalo hump is usually not a big deal. This less-than-flattering term describes a deposit of fat at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. The condition isn’t usually harmful or painful, but it does tend to make people a bit self-conscious. If you have this fat deposit and it bothers you, a visit to the plastic surgeon for a little liposuction can solve the problem.
What is a Buffalo Hump on the Back of the Neck?
A buffalo hump is simply a deposit of fat cells located between your shoulder blades. It’s not a tumor or any type of bone or muscle deformity. Doctors refer to the condition as having a dorsocervical fat pad. It’s important that you don’t confuse a buffalo hump with a dowager’s hump.
The dowager’s hump is a physical deformity caused by years of bad posture. Medically referred to as kyphosis, a dowager’s hump forms after a lifetime of leaning forward over computer keyboards and other devices. The result is that the upper spine develops a curve. This is a bone deformity and one that your surgeon can’t easily correct.
Reversing a dowager’s hump requires long-term treatment and potentially spine-fusing surgery while a surgeon can easily remove a buffalo hump in a fairly simple procedure. In short, a dowager’s hump is made of bone. A buffalo hump is not and consists only of fat cells.
What Causes a Buffalo Hump to Form?
Sometimes a buffalo hump forms as a side effect of certain medications. Using certain steroids like prednisone and hydrocortisone for long periods of time can cause a buffalo hump, as can some of the medicines used to treat HIV and AIDS. High levels of cortisol in the body can also cause this particular fat deposit, and high cortisol levels are often caused by Cushing syndrome. A disease known as Madelung disease (multiple symmetrical lipomatosis, if you prefer) can also cause the hump.
Obesity can also be an issue. As you know if you’ve ever tried to trim fat from a specific area, the human body tends to deposit fat cells wherever it likes. The more fat cells you have, the more likely it is that some of them will get deposited in the area between your shoulder blades. Obesity can lead to fat buildup literally anywhere, including in a buffalo hump.
Sometimes the buffalo hump is simply a result of the genetic jackpot. There are many genetic disorders, many of them quite benign, that can lead to a buffalo hump or other unusual areas of fat accumulation. You may simply have genetics to thank for your buffalo hump.
Is a Buffalo Hump from Bad Posture?
If your mother was always telling you to stop slouching, you may wonder if your posture caused your buffalo hump. You can rest assured that it did not. Your mom wasn’t wrong to correct you —poor posture can lead to problems including a dowager’s hump—but it did not give you a buffalo hump. Poor posture can, however, help make a buffalo hump more noticeable. (We’ll count Mom as half-right on this one.)
Can You Get Rid of a Buffalo Hump Naturally?
If your hump is the result of obesity, diet and exercise may help. There’s no guarantee that the fat you lose will be the fat in your buffalo hump, but you could lose fat there as well as throughout your body. If the hump is caused by a medication that you take, you and your doctor may be able to find an alternative treatment that won’t deposit fat between your shoulders. Unfortunately, however, most people find themselves unable to get rid of a buffalo hump on their own using natural methods.
How to Get Rid of a Buffalo Hump
The most effective way to get rid of a buffalo hump is through plastic surgery. A plastic surgeon can utilize liposuction to remove the excess fat cells deposited in the back, thereby flattening and reshaping the area. Fat cells removed via liposuction are gone for good and won’t be coming back. The procedure offers a rapid and fairly easy recovery with most patients returning to work in 2 to 3 days.
In most patients removal of a buffalo hump via liposuction creates a permanent improvement. Note that your buffalo hump could come back, however, if you continue to take medications that contribute to these fat deposits or fail to treat or adequately control underlying conditions such as Cushing syndrome.
Is Buffalo Hump Removal Covered by Insurance?
In most cases, buffalo hump removal is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by medical insurance. In rare cases, however, a hump may become large enough to push the neck forward and make activities of daily living like turning your head painful and difficult. In these instances, insurers can sometimes be persuaded to deem the procedure medically necessary and cover the surgery.
Because the procedures we offer are generally considered elective and not covered by insurance, Mia Aesthetics does not work with any insurance companies at this time. We do offer several favorable financing options, however, to help make it easier for you to afford the surgery you need. If you can get your insurer to pay for your buffalo hump removal, note that you will be expected to pay for our services in full. You will then need to work out some type of reimbursement plan with your insurance company.
What Other Cosmetic Procedures Can Be Combined with Buffalo Hump Liposuction?
When considering plastic surgery, our patients often find that they have multiple concerns they would like to address. You can generally group any combination of plastic surgeries into a single procedure as long as your surgeon feels it is safe to do so and would not create an unnecessarily difficult recovery period. When having a buffalo hump removed, many patients focus on other areas of their neck and face by combining the procedure with a neck, chin, or face lift.