Unwanted Back Fat Part 4A
Date: March 29, 2016
Upper Back Fat – Bra Fat & the Buffalo Hump
Upper back fat, “bra overhang,” is unwanted fat located on the upper back around the bra lines. The bulges over the bra, often referred to as ‘bra flab, bra bulge & back fat,’ present unattractive lumps in clothing and cause much distress to those who suffer from the condition. Upper back fat can also be present as a fat pad right between the shoulder blades, giving a ‘hunched over’, old lady-look. This fat pad is referred to as a buffalo hump and is quite troubling to those who suffer from it. Though both of these conditions are located in the upper back, they have distinctly different causes.
First, upper back bra fat has two primary causes: (1) atrophy and weakness of the back muscles; and (2) excess body fat. Sometimes a sluggish thyroid can attribute to the unwanted fat problem but rarely does this condition arise when there is not excess body fat in other places. Most of us pay attention to our ‘mirror muscles’ – those muscles that we look at in the mirror. We often forget about our back muscles. As a result, our back muscles can become weak and shrink. We develop an unsightly appearance when we add our layers of unwanted fat deposits to untoned muscles. We can improve our back’s appearance with exercise to build and strengthen the back muscles, plus an overall weight loss. We do know, however, that spot reduction is not possible with diet and exercise alone. For this reason, medical intervention may be necessary to eradicate the angst associated with the condition.
Secondly, the buffalo hump, called ‘Dowager’s Hump,’ is most often caused by poor posture. We recognize, however, that some people may have a genetic predisposition to collect fat in that area. It can also be caused by a past spinal injury or osteoporosis, and in rare cases, can be caused by a condition called Cushing’s Syndrome or by long term use of steroids or a few other medications. This condition may exist in a person of healthy weight.
In most cases, a forward head posture, aka ‘chicken head posture,’ causes the body to develop a fat pad at the base of the neck to protect the spine, called a Dowager’s Hump, aka buffalo hump. Yes, years of slouching at the computer or looking down at your cell phone can do it.
A past spinal injury can also create a buffalo hump due to that injury causing your spine to turn on a healing mode. The body deposits fat over the spine to protect the spine from further injury. For very similar reasons, the body may deposit fat over the spine when osteoporosis is present.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to collect fat in that area. That being said, the buffalo hump cannot be formed without excess fat in the body (i.e. the individual gaining excess fat).
In rare cases, long term use of steroids and a few other medications can lead to the formation of a buffalo hump. Rare medical conditions called Cushing’s Syndrome and Cervical Kyphosis can create a Dowager’s Hump (buffalo hump).
In nearly all of the cases of Dowager’s Hump (buffalo hump), diet and exercise alone will not reverse the condition. Medical intervention is necessary.
Next: Look for part 4B of our series wherein we discuss ways to improve the appearance of upper back fat, bra fat and buffalo hump.