What Is A Buffalo Hump And Can Liposuction Fix It

Remember, as a child, when your parents would tell you to sit up straight? Or to stand tall, with your head up and your shoulders back? Did they ever tell you that if you slouched over too much you would get stuck in that position? You probably rolled your eyes and wished they would stop nagging you. Well, as it turns out, your parents were not completely wrong. Who would have thought they were predicting a future buffalo hump?

Today's modern lifestyle involves a lot of bending our necks forward. At work we spend hours looking down at our computer screens, heads tilted slightly forward. It is such a common thing we don't even think about it. When we are relaxing, we are still looking down, at television screens, computer screens, cell phones, and tablets. We have a tendency to crane our neck forward. All of this contributes to poor posture and poor posture can lead to many unpleasant conditions, including the development of a buffalo hump.

You are probably wondering just what a buffalo hump is. I will tell you I am certain you have seen one before. Chances are very good that your mother has one, and that your grandmother had one. It is also likely that your father and grandfather may have had one as well. And if you and I aren't careful, if we don't start sitting up straight and keeping our head and shoulders back, we could develop one as well.

What Is A Buffalo Hump?

man with buffalo hump

A buffalo hump is a fat deposit that develops between the shoulders. While this is not serious from a health standpoint, it can limit the range of motion for the neck making it difficult to turn the head side to side and up and down. From a cosmetic standpoint, it is for many people unsightly and just plain embarrassing. The hump can be caused by a medical condition or by certain prescription medications. It can even be caused by simple poor posture.

In some cases, a hump on the back may befall someone and appear similar to a buffalo hump yet not be one. These humps are different in that they do not involve a fat deposit. It is important to see your family doctor first, therefore, to determine the nature of your hump. He or she will be able to diagnose the hump with a physical exam and will need to run tests to determine the kind of hump you have.

What Causes Them?

A hump between the shoulders can develop due to medical conditions, medication, obesity or even poor posture. For some, genetics may also play a role, making them predisposed to developing a buffalo hump. Your body builds up extra fat between your shoulders and on your neck. Eventually, this excess fat seems to bulge up, making a hump shape.

Prescription Medications

medicine tablets

For some patients, a hump develops as a side effect of certain medications. Long-term use of steroids is an example of one these medications.

Osteoporosis

bone with osteoporosis

Patients with osteoporosis develop unusually thin bones due to poor calcium absorption. Since the bones of the spine are so thin, they become curved creating a hump.

Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing's Syndrome is a disorder in which the body produces too much cortisol. It impacts a wide spectrum of physiological functions. Among them are thinning bones and weakening of the muscles. This creates a curvature of the spine, coupled with the tendency of Cushing's Syndrome to create a fat deposit behind the neck.

Obesity

hamburger

Obesity and gaining a large amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time can cause the body to store fat in areas on the back. This can lead to the development of a buffalo hump as fatty deposits are built up between the shoulders.

Poor Posture

poor posture

We spend most of our days slumped over our keyboards or bent over our desks, staring at cell phone screens or reading books. All those days of slouching and years of slumping can lead to fatty deposits building up between the shoulders and creating a buffalo hump. It gives one a good reason to remember to sit up straight.

Can Liposuction Fix It?

surgeons doing surgery

In treating a buffalo hump, the first step should be to talk to your family doctor. Before they can do liposuction, it needs to be determined if there is an underlying medical condition causing the hump. If they do not treat the medical condition, there is a chance that the buffalo hump may return, even after liposuction.

Liposuction is the most often recommended treatment option for getting rid of buffalo humps. There are several techniques that can be used for the removal of the fatty deposit that makes up the hump. These procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, so you don't have to spend time in the hospital. We'll get into the specific procedures next.

Tumescent Liposuction

This is the most widely used form of liposuction for the removal of buffalo humps. Tumescent liposuction can be performed using local anesthesia and is thought to be one of the safer choices.

An injection of epinephrine into the fat cells is administered before surgery. This shrinks the capillaries reducing blood loss, which makes the surgery safer. It also helps keep pain and bruising to a minimum. This makes recovery easier and reduces the number of side effects.

Ultrasonic Liposuction

Ultrasonic liposuction uses high-pitched sound waves to liquefy fat cells, The surgeon can then vacuum the fluid out. This technique makes fat removal easier if the deposit is dense or in a hard to reach placement. The use of only local anesthesia makes this technique a good choice since the patient's recovery time will be reduced.

After surgery, the patient will be asked to wear a compression device for about two weeks. This keeps consistent pressure on the treated area, allowing uniform healing to occur. The use of the compression device allows the patient to achieve the most positive result.

Laser Assisted Liposuction

Laser Assisted Liposuction is very similar to ultrasonic liposuction. It uses lasers however rather than ultra-sound to melt the fat. This technique also uses only local anesthesia which results in a more manageable recovery with fewer side effects.

Air Sculpt Laser Lipo

Air Sculpt Laser Lipo is a minimally invasive procedure that does not use needles or scalpels. A numbing solution is first dispersed through a 2-millimeter hole. A laser is then used through the same hole to melt fat cells. The air sculpt machine quickly removes the melted fat cells by moving back and forth one thousand times per minute. It requires no stitches when the procedure is complete.

After Liposuction

No matter the liposuction technique used, the patient should expect to experience some mild pain and discomfort afterward. This can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication for the first few days. Patients should not do any kind of exercise or lifting for a minimum of two weeks although most can return to work within a week.

Non-Surgical Options

For those people who are afraid of surgery and want an alternative, there are still a few treatment options available. Liposuction, however, is still considered the best treatment for a buffalo hump. The results of these treatments are short-term, as, eventually, the hump does grow back. We cover some alternative treatments next.

Intralipotherapy

This treatment involves an injection of fat-busting substances into the fat deposit. As the fat breaks down the hump will eventually shrink.

Kybella

This is another injection that causes fat to dissolve. It requires multiple treatments and, at this time, it is used primarily for the fat under the chin. Some surgeons have found success using it on the neck and expect its use to grow in the future. Kybella treatment is performed in the office with local anesthesia.

Coolsculpting

Coolsculpting is a noninvasive procedure that involves freezing the fat deposit which will then disintegrate over time.  Once the fat cells are broken down, the body removes them naturally. This treatment also requires more than one session.

Conclusion

If you are considering liposuction for a buffalo hump, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. He or she has the medical training to assist you. Ask questions, go to your appointment with a list of things you want to know. Make yourself an informed patient so you can choose the treatment option that is right for you. There are a few things to keep in mind until then.

Good liposuction candidates are those who are generally in good health, are non-smokers, and have no medical conditions that could slow down the healing process. They should be within a healthy weight range; liposuction as a treatment for a buffalo hump is not a good option for those who are obese. They should not have a hump that has developed due to an underlying medical condition, or through the use of prescription medications.

Liposuction, along with treating the underlying cause of formation, is effective in removing the unsightly hump. It is important that the patient follows all of his or her doctor's instructions so that he or she will achieve the best results. Treating the underlying cause and following doctor's orders will also help to minimize the chance that the buffalo hump will come back in the future.

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