What Is the Fat Pad on the Upper Back?

An area of fat on the upper back, between the shoulder blades and just below the base of the neck, is referred to as a buffalo hump. An accumulation of fat in this area can be indicative of excess weight or a symptom of a disease.

Features

An accumulation of fat in the mid, upper back is called a buffalo hump or a dorsocervical fat pad. The fat pad isn't necessarily a symptom of a disease or problem, but a doctor can conduct an evaluation to determine the cause. Some people who suffer from the buffalo hump experience changes in their appearance, movement restriction, pain and difficulty sleeping.

Evaluation

If the physician isn't sure what's causing the accumulation of fat on your upper back, he may complete a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history such as, "What is your age? Have you ever been checked for or diagnosed with osteoporosis? Do you take any medications? Do you have any other symptoms?" If he needs further information to make a diagnosis, he may order more tests, including a blood count, bone mineral density, cortisol levels in blood and urine, an MRI or CT scan of the head and a CT scan of the adrenal glands and the abdomen, chest X-rays and a dxamethasone suppression test.

Causes

Extreme obesity; some AIDS-treating drugs; prologned use of steroids, including prednisone, hydrocortisone and cortizone; and hypercortisolism caused by Cushing syndrome are some of the problems that can cause the formation of an upper back fat pad.

Treatment

If the hump is caused by extreme obesity, your physician may recommend exercise and a change in diet, which can lessen the degree of the fat accumulation. If she suspects that a medication you're taking is causing the fat pad, she may alter the dose or discontinue the medication. In some cases, the doctor can prescribe treatment for the medical problem that caused the buffalo hump. Another treatment for the fat pad is surgical removal, but postoperative problems and scarring are concerns.

Liposuction

According to Liposuction.com, "liposuction of the dorsal hump is easily accomplished and patients are uniformly delighted with the results." For the back, tumescent liposuction is considered safer than ultrasonic assisted liposuction. Some liposuction procedures performed on the back can leave skin permanently discolored or "bumpy" in appearance, so find a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in back liposuction.

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