Treatment Options for a Buffalo Hump

Posted September 10, 2015

Just when it seems like there are no more beauty flaws left to be discovered, a new figure flaw has come to prominence that cries out to be fixed. The latest human body flaw is not in the breasts, thighs, tummy or ankles.  It can found at the base of the neck and is known as a “buffalo hump”.

A Closer Look at a "Buffalo Hump"

The buffalo hump is when fat gathers at the base of the neck.  The fat pad is located between the shoulder blades and results in a hunched appearance. The gathering of fat on the neck can be caused by a variety of reasons including:

  • Excessive weight gain
  • Bad posture/Slouching
  • Cushing’s syndrome (when the body produces too much of the cortisol hormone)
  • Injuries that cause micro-damage in the neck and leads to posture problems
  • Tumors or cysts
  • Bone curvature in the spine
  • The use of steroids such as hydrocortisone and cortisone

How is a Buffalo Hump Diagnosed?

The first step is visiting a doctor to undergo a physical exam and tests. Some of the most common, and relatively easy, tests that doctors perform to determine if the condition is a buffalo hump include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Checking the cortisol levels via a blood test

Once a physician determines if the fat gathered on the neck is a buffalo hump, it’s time to treat the condition. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat as well as prevent the condition:

  • Switching the dosage of prescription medication (under the supervision of a doctor)
  • A healthy diet and exercise program to lose weight
  • Better posture where a person keeps the head upright, shoulders straight and no slumping while sitting at a desk or while standing up
  • Have a good amount of Vitamin D and calcium on a daily basis

Surgical Treatments for Buffalo Hump

There are also some surgical options available to treat, and correct, a buffalo hump and they include:

  • Cervico-dorsal-hump correction – One of the main surgical options is a cervico-dorsal-hump correction. The area where the fat forms is the cervico-dorsal hump.  The fat accumulation can be removed by having liposuction of the dorsal hump. A patient needs to consult with a skilled physician before undergoing a liposuction procedure in order to choose the best option to minimize scarring. There are different liposuction techniques that can be used to treat a buffalo hump, they include:
  1. Tumescent liposuction – One of most popular liposuction choices for dealing with a buffalo hump is tumescent liposuction using micro-cannulas. This liposuction technique involves several liters of a saline solution with a local anesthetic (lidocaine) and a vessel-constrictor (epinephrine). They are pumped below the skin in the area that is to be suctioned. The fat is suctioned through small suction tubes.
  2. Dry liposuction – This is a liposuction technique that involves no fluid injection before the removal of the fat. This method is seldom used today because of the risk involved. There is a higher risk of bruising and bleeding.
  3. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) – This liposuction technique is also known as ultrasonic liposuction. The cannula is energized with ultrasound that makes the fat melt away on contact. The ultrasound vibrations burst the walls of the fat cells which emulsifies, or liquefies the fat, and makes it easier to suction out. After ultrasonic liposuction, suction-assisted liposuction is performed to remove the liquefied fat.
  4. Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) – PAL uses a specialized cannula with a mechanized system that rapidly moves back-and-forth which allows the surgeon to pull out fat more easily.
  5. Laser-assisted lipolysis (LAL) – This is a very common liposuction technique that is also called laser-guided lipo. This procedure requires the use of tumescent fluid. It is a less invasive procedure than the traditional liposuction method for removing fat. A small tube is inserted through a small incision to deliver laser energy and heat into the fat that is under the skin.
  • Radiation therapy - Depending on the severity of the buffalo hump, radiation therapy might be an option. If the buffalo hump is the result of a pituitary tumor or Cushing’s syndrome, radiation therapy can help remove the tumor as well as prevent the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome from appearing again. If radiation treatment or surgery is not a good option for a patient, medicine prescribed by a doctor can be used to control the level of cortisol being produced by the body.
  • Removal of the adrenal glands - One final surgical option is the removal of the adrenal glands to prevent the over-production of cortisol.  This medical procedure is known as bilateral adrenalectomy.

Consult with a Doctor about a Buffalo Hump

No matter which method a patient chooses to fight the appearance of a buffalo hump, they should consult with a board-certified doctor before proceeding with a treatment option. The condition can sometimes be treated, and corrected, with simple exercises and everyday adjustments to the posture of a person.  There will be cases where a surgical procedure is better suited to deal with both the causes and visible effects of a buffalo hump. A skilled and experienced doctor can help a patient determine the best method of dealing with, and correcting, a buffalo hump.  While a hump might look good on a camel, a moose or even a buffalo, it’s not a very good fashion statement for a happy and healthy human being.

- MA


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