Updated on December 15th, 2022 at 07:36 pm
When I gained weight, fat accumulated in my thighs, legs, arms, and abdomen, but I never expected excess fat to deposit at the back of my neck, giving me a hunched look. Now that I’m ready to remake myself, I can’t help but wonder, ‘if I lose weight, will my buffalo hump go away?’
Losing weight through exercise and dieting can help in treating your buffalo hump. However, weight loss alone isn’t always enough to get rid of it. If the excessive fat deposit was caused by medication, altering the dosage or stopping it helps. In some cases, surgery to get rid of the fat deposits is the best option.
Let’s take a deeper look into what a buffalo hump is, its causes, and various treatment options.
What is a buffalo hump?
Medically known as a dorsocervical fat pad, a buffalo hump is an accumulation of fat that develops between your shoulders and at the back of your neck. A larger version of a buffalo hump is called a Dowager’s hump.
Depending on the cause, the condition can be serious. While you might think obesity is the cause of yours, it might not be. It’s advisable to seek professional medical advice to determine the root cause of the hump.
The good news is that buffalo humps caused by obesity are reversible through physical therapy, a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
What causes a buffalo hump?
A buffalo hump can develop as a result of:
- Excessive production of cortisol or glucocorticoid in your bloodstream. Increased levels of cortisol in your bloodstream can be caused by:
- Cushing’s syndrome, a condition where the adrenal glands produce higher cortisol levels
- Taking corticosteroid drugs to treat some conditions
- Osteoporosis – a condition that results in bones weakening and thinning. Osteoporosis leads to a bone deformity that causes your spine to curve and a hump behind your neck.
- Certain medications like those to manage AIDS.
- Bad posture, which causes kyphosis. Leaning your head forward can lead to calcium build-up in your neck, which eventually causes the hump to develop.
- Abnormal growth like adrenal tumors or cysts. In such a situation, weight loss cannot help you get rid of the hump.
Note: It’s natural to develop a buffalo hump during pregnancy. Luckily, it can go away after a couple of months. If you suddenly develop a hump behind your neck, see your doctor immediately.
How is a buffalo hump diagnosed?
A health expert can diagnose the hump through physical examination, but they’d have to run more tests to uncover the root cause of the hump. They’ll inquire about your symptoms, age, medical history, and current medications during the process.
Some of the common tests they run include:
- CT scan
- A blood test to determine cortisol and hormone levels
- Bone density test
What are the symptoms of a buffalo hump?
Aside from the visible dorsocervical fat pad on your neck, you might experience other symptoms depending on the underlying condition, disorder, or cause. Endocrine symptoms that manifest along with the hump and point to high cortisol levels include:
- Back pain
- Emotional changes
- Easy bruising
- Excess hair growth
- High blood sugar levels
- Excessive thirst
- Facial redness and swelling
- Menstrual changes
- Skin thinning
- Glucose intolerance
- How is a buffalo hump treated?
The treatment depends on the underlying cause. If your medication causes the hump, your doctor might alter the medication dosage or stop it. But if it’s caused by Cushing syndrome, medication or surgery is needed to lower cortisol levels. If it’s Madelung disease, cosmetic surgery is used to get rid of the fat deposits.
In addition to the above, a healthcare professional may recommend exercising and dieting to help reduce excess fat accumulation. They may also provide prescription medications to help alleviate some symptoms.
What are the complications of a buffalo hump?
Non-severe buffalo humps do not have serious side effects. Some complications you might experience as a result of the hump might include:
- Shyness or embarrassment due to distorted physical appearance that might lead to anxiety or depression
- Difficulty tilting your head side to side and backward
If the hump is caused by osteoporosis, and the condition goes untreated for a long time, bone fractures might occur.
Though pain is rare, it might manifest in the shoulders and neck areas in the absence of treatment.
Over time, the shin will move closer and closer to your ribcage, which might cause spinal degeneration. As a result, new muscles might develop to support regular muscles support the head. These new muscles will be under constant strain due to overuse, leading to pain in your neck.
How long does it take to get rid of a buffalo hump?
Regardless of the cause, the hump won’t disappear immediately. It takes time to correct the conditions, sometimes even months. If you take too long to act, it might never disappear completely.
Note: If a non-severe case caused the hump, reversing the hump completely is possible without surgery. But if there’s a serious underlying condition in play like osteoporosis, the condition might improve, but the hump might not change.
Can you get rid of a buffalo hump naturally?
Making some lifestyle changes can play a big role in correcting Dowager’s hump and getting rid of a buffalo hump. Two major changes include diet and exercise.
Dieting – Since weight gain leads to excess neck fat deposits which often cause the hump, losing weight can help treatments. Your doctor can recommend sticking to a low-calorie intake diet for weight loss. Forming healthy and sustainable dietary habits is key to your success.
You could have whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Focus more on high-fiber and protein-rich foods and avoid fatty and sugary foods to ensure you remain fuller for longer.
For osteoporosis-related humps, a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium like eggs, mushrooms, dairy, and fish will improve bone health.
Exercise – Reducing body fat while increasing muscle mass can help develop a healthy weight that’s easy to maintain as the hump shrinks. Moreover, exercising helps to improve posture. To lose weight and gain muscle mass, try a blend of weight training and cardio workouts.
Posture correction and stretching under professional guidance can help strengthen neck and upper back muscles and reduce the hump. Some of these include:
- Chin tucks
- Neck stretches
- Standing push-ups
- Squeezing shoulder blades
Can yoga help with buffalo hump?
Yoga can help reduce the hump by strengthening muscles and reducing hormone cortisol levels.
When our bodies are under stress, our bodies trigger the fight-or-flight response. Although not all kinds of stress are bad, chronic stress might lead to serious health issues, including heart diseases, depression, anxiety, reduced immunity, and the Dowager’s hump. Studies link yoga to reduced cortisol levels, a stress hormone linked to the development of the buffalo hump.
Though yoga is popular as a stretching exercise, some poses help build and strengthen muscles. For instance, the needle pose, child’s pose, and extended triangle pose can help build and strengthen shoulder and neck muscles, reducing the hump.
Can a chiropractor help fix your Dowager’s hump?
A chiropractor can help if your hump is a result of poor posture. A chiropractor will help teach you how to reduce your hump through better posture and even try to fix it. But even if the hump isn’t a result of poor posture, the chiropractor can help:
- Reduce muscle spasms
- Reduce inflammation
- Maintain your spine’s health
- Reduce chronic pain
- Treat your intervertebral discs
Can buffalo hump cause headaches?
If left untreated, some individuals start to experience pain in their neck and shoulders. Eventually, the pain will progress into intense headaches.
How much does it cost to remove a buffalo hump?
The cost of a buffalo hump removal procedure varies depending on the liposuction treatment used, how much fat needs to be extracted, and your area of residence. Generally, liposuction costs more when done on larger areas like the upper neck and the abdomen.
Depending on your method of choice, liposuction for a buffalo hump will cost between $3,000 and $6,000. In some extreme cases, the procedure may cost upwards of $10,000.
Does insurance cover buffalo hump removal?
Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t cover most buffalo hump procedures. However, if you can show how the condition prevents you from completing normal physical activity, you might persuade the insurance company to cover some costs.
Before diving in, consult with a qualified plastic surgeon when exploring your treatment options.
How long does a buffalo hump take to heal?
Removing the hump on the back of your neck is a small procedure that takes about an hour to complete. Small discomforts like swelling, bruising, tenderness will be there for several days. To fully recover, allow your body time to rest for about three months.
It helps if you avoid strenuous activities and exercises for a while during the recovery period.
Can a buffalo hump return?
Some people prefer using cosmetic surgery to reduce fat accumulation at the back of their necks. While this does the trick, the results will not be permanent if the underlying conditions aren’t addressed.
Developing a buffalo hump is an embarrassment and a hassle. Moreover, it can lead to adverse effects if not dealt treated fast. In most cases, it’s better to take preventative steps rather than treat the condition. To stop the development of the hump, you can increase your calcium intake, exercise especially on strength training, be on a strict healthy diet, and improve your posture.
If the hump develops regardless of these precautions, seek to determine the underlying cause before treating it. In the case of a non-severe hump, weight loss can help get rid of it.