10 Celebrities Living With Buffalo Hump

Estimated read time 17 min read

As an avid pop culture consumer, you likely follow the latest news and gossip about your favorite celebrities. However, there are aspects of celebrity lives that often go unreported in the media. One such example is the medical condition known as buffalo hump. This abnormal fat accumulation on the back of the neck can affect people of all backgrounds, including celebrities. The following article highlights 10 well-known celebrities living with buffalo hump, a condition that can be caused by factors like aging, weight gain, or certain medications. Though buffalo hump is typically not dangerous, it can potentially lead to other health issues if left untreated. By raising awareness of this underreported issue, we aim to reduce stigmas around health conditions that can impact anyone.

What Is Buffalo Hump?

Buffalo hump, also known as dorsocervical fat pad, refers to excess fat accumulation in the upper back, specifically overlying the lower cervical spine and upper thoracic spine. ###

This condition causes a rounded hump at the base of the neck. While often attributed to weight gain or obesity, a buffalo hump can also develop in normal-weight or underweight individuals. The most common causes are:

  1. Lipodystrophy: Abnormal fat distribution due to medications like antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV. This is a common cause of buffalo hump in those with HIV.
  2. Cushing’s syndrome: Excess cortisol hormone can lead to fat redistribution and buffalo hump. Cushing’s syndrome has several potential causes, including corticosteroid medication use or a tumor in the pituitary or adrenal glands.
  3. Genetics: Some individuals are more prone to carrying extra fat over the upper back and neck due to family history and genetics. Losing weight can help improve the appearance but may not completely eliminate a buffalo hump caused by genetics.

A buffalo hump can often be reduced through lifestyle changes, medication adjustments, or medical procedures. Losing excess fat through diet and exercise is typically recommended as a first step. If the underlying cause is treated, such as changing or stopping medications that cause abnormal fat distribution, the buffalo hump may decrease over time. In severe or persistent cases, liposuction or lipectomy surgery may be an option to remove excess fat and tissue in the neck and upper back.

With proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause, buffalo hump can frequently be managed well. However, some residual hump may remain, so maintaining a healthy weight and fitness level is important for long-term improvement and prevention of recurrence.

Celebrities Who Have Been Open About Their Buffalo Hump

Several notable public figures have helped raise awareness of buffalo hump by openly discussing their personal experiences living with this condition.

Magic Johnson

The legendary basketball star Magic Johnson announced in 1991 that he was HIV-positive. Since his diagnosis, Johnson has worked tirelessly as an advocate for HIV/AIDS research and reducing stigma around the disease. In interviews, Johnson has spoken about developing a buffalo hump as a side effect of antiretroviral therapy. By using his platform to educate people about HIV-related complications like buffalo hump, Johnson has made an enormous impact in fighting misconceptions about the disease.

Carnie Wilson

Carnie Wilson, singer and TV host, underwent gastric bypass surgery in 1999 but gained much of the weight back, developing a buffalo hump in the process. Wilson has said that the excess fat behind her neck has caused physical discomfort and impacted her self-esteem. However, she has also used her experience to spread awareness of the challenges of weight loss and body image. Wilson has advocated for people to practice self-acceptance regardless of body size or shape.

Ricki Lake

In her documentary “The Business of Being Born,” actress Ricki Lake discussed gaining nearly 100 pounds during her pregnancy and developing a buffalo hump, which took years to fully resolve. Lake has said that the extra weight and body changes were difficult to cope with, given societal pressures on women to quickly lose “baby weight” and achieve an unrealistic post-pregnancy body. By revealing her personal struggle, Lake has highlighted the need for greater understanding and support for women’s bodies during and after childbearing years.

These are just a few examples of well-known people who have helped advance public understanding of buffalo hump and related health issues by courageously sharing their own stories. Their openness and advocacy have made a meaningful difference in expanding how we think about bodies, weight, illness, and standards of attractiveness.

Causes of Buffalo Hump in Hollywood

For many celebrities, a buffalo hump can develop due to medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medications. The most common causes of buffalo hump in Hollywood stars are:

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, often called the โ€œstress hormone.โ€ Excess cortisol can cause fat deposits on the upper back and neck, resulting in a buffalo hump. Celebrities like Rosie Oโ€™Donnell and Cybill Shepherd have been open about their struggles with Cushingโ€™s syndrome.

Steroid treatment

Long-term use or high doses of corticosteroids like prednisone can lead to Cushingoid side effects, including buffalo hump. Steroids are commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis but must be carefully monitored to minimize side effects. Some celebrities have developed buffalo hump through prolonged steroid use to treat chronic health conditions.

HIV medications

Older HIV medications like protease inhibitors and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors have been linked to fat redistribution and buffalo hump. As HIV treatment has advanced, newer medications tend to have fewer metabolic side effects. However, some long-term HIV survivors from the early days of the epidemic still struggle with stubborn fat deposits that developed during initial treatment regimes.

Weight gain

In some cases, significant weight gain alone can lead to fat accumulation on the upper back and neck. Losing excess pounds through diet and exercise may help improve the appearance of a buffalo hump, though it may not completely resolve the condition. Weight loss can be challenging, especially while juggling a busy Hollywood schedule.

In summary, there are several possible explanations for buffalo hump in celebrities and the general population. The underlying cause of the condition needs to be diagnosed and properly treated to minimize health risks and cosmetic concerns. With close monitoring, lifestyle changes, and advanced medical care, celebrities with buffalo hump can successfully manage their condition long-term.

Treatments Available for Buffalo Hump

For those living with buffalo hump, several treatment options are available to help reduce its appearance and relieve associated symptoms. Though buffalo hump cannot be cured entirely, the following methods may provide some relief and improve quality of life.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle adjustments can help minimize buffalo hump. Losing excess weight through diet and exercise reduces fat deposits overall, including those behind the neck. Practice good posture with the shoulders back to prevent hunching forward. Use a wedge pillow or recliner to keep your head slightly elevated while sleeping to prevent fluid buildup. Apply warm compresses to tight neck muscles to relieve tension and reduce inflammation.


Corticosteroids like prednisone can reduce inflammation and ease pressure on the spine. Diuretics remove excess fluid and decrease swelling. Analgesics manage any pain from nerve compression. Bisphosphonates like alendronate strengthen bones and may provide some benefit for those with buffalo hump due to osteoporosis. Cosmetic injections of deoxycholic acid can help break down fat cells.

Braces and Physical Therapy

Custom neck braces or collars provide external support and stability for the neck. Physical therapy focuses on posture improvement, neck stretches, and strengthening exercises. Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to warm tissues and increase blood flow to tight neck muscles. Massage therapy can help relax muscles and break up fat deposits.


For severe or persistent cases of buffalo hump, surgical procedures may be recommended as a last resort. Liposuction suctions out fat and tissue from behind the neck and upper back. A neck lift, or cervicoplasty, removes excess skin and tightens underlying muscles. Implants can be used to build up thinning areas of the neck. While not always completely curative, surgery often provides the most dramatic results for improving the appearance and profile of buffalo hump.

With patience and persistence, buffalo hump can frequently be well-managed through a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, physical treatments, and in some situations, surgical intervention. By working closely with your doctor, you can determine an integrated approach tailored to your specific needs and find relief from this condition.

How Celebrities Manage and Cope With the Condition

As a celebrity, living with buffalo hump can present unique challenges. In the public eye, appearances matter and even minor physical changes may be scrutinized. However, some well-known figures have openly discussed their experiences with this condition and how they manage its effects.

Medical Interventions

Some celebrities have turned to medical procedures to improve the appearance of buffalo hump. Liposuction, for example, removes excess fat deposits from the area. Dermal fillers like hyaluronic acid can also be injected to smooth contours. For persistent cases, surgeons may perform neck liposuction in combination with a neck lift to tighten sagging neck skin and jowls.

Diet and Exercise

Several celebrities note that diet and exercise have been crucial for managing buffalo hump. Losing excess pounds and building muscle tone in the neck and shoulders can help improve posture and profile. A balanced diet low in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats paired with regular cardio exercise and strength training targeting the neck, shoulders, and core may produce noticeable results over time. Staying well hydrated also helps skin retain elasticity.

Confidence and Acceptance

Ultimately, learning to accept oneself as you are remains key. Some public figures discuss focusing on qualities beyond physical appearance and gaining confidence from their talents, skills, and achievements. Surrounding yourself with a strong support system of people who appreciate you for who you are can help foster self-acceptance and resilience in the face of health conditions and societal pressures regarding image. With self-love and compassion, buffalo hump becomes simply another aspect of one’s humanity.

By utilizing medical treatments as needed, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and cultivating self-acceptance, celebrities prove that buffalo hump does not have to define you or hold you back from living life fully in the public eye and beyond. Their openness and insights provide hope and inspiration for all facing this condition. With determination and the right mindset, you too can overcome self-consciousness and embrace life unencumbered by worries over physical imperfections.

Impact on Careers and Public Image

As a celebrity, living with a medical condition like buffalo hump can significantly impact both your career and public image. The visibility of celebrities means their lives are under constant scrutiny, and any perceived flaw or abnormality is swiftly noticed and commented on, especially on social media.

Impact on Careers

For actors and musicians, buffalo hump may be seen as detrimental to their image and ability to get work, especially in lead roles. However, some celebrities have taken control of the narrative by openly discussing their condition and the challenges they face. This helps to raise public awareness, reduce stigma, and inspire others in similar situations. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga have been outspoken about their health issues and used their platform to become advocates.

  • Difficulty obtaining insurance. Celebrities may face issues getting production insurance for films and TV shows, especially if the buffalo hump requires ongoing medical treatment or causes physical limitations. This can pose a barrier to accepting certain roles.
  • Challenges performing physically demanding roles. For action stars or musicians, the symptoms and side effects of buffalo hump like fatigue, joint pain, and limited mobility can make their usual work difficult or unsafe to perform. They may need to turn down offers or make accommodations on set.

Public Scrutiny

Living in the public eye also means celebrities have little privacy regarding their health issues and treatment. Photos of their changing appearance and speculation about the cause flood gossip columns and social media. This unsolicited attention and judgment from strangers can take an immense psychological toll. Many celebrities report struggling with body image, self-esteem issues, and even developing eating disorders in response to constant criticism of their looks.

While a medical condition like buffalo hump undoubtedly presents unique challenges for those in the spotlight, by using their platform to spread awareness, understanding, and compassion, celebrities have the power to create positive change. Focusing on health and self-acceptance over unrealistic societal beauty standards may help to counteract the harsh glare of public scrutiny. Overall, with the right support system in place, celebrities can continue to thrive in their careers despite facing difficulties that come with health issues in the public eye.

Support Groups and Awareness Campaigns

For those living with buffalo hump, support groups, and awareness campaigns can help in managing the condition and reducing stigma. Several organizations focus on connecting people with similar experiences, promoting education, and advocating for improved treatment options.

The Buffalo Hump Support Network

The Buffalo Hump Support Network provides online support groups, education resources, and events for people living with HIV-associated lipodystrophy. They aim to empower those with buffalo hump through community and knowledge sharing. Local meet-ups and online forums allow members to connect, ask questions, and share self-care tips for symptom management.

Let’s Stop HIV Stigma

The Let’s Stop HIV Stigma campaign works to eliminate misconceptions and discrimination against those living with HIV. They promote education about lesser-known side effects like buffalo hump to build understanding and compassion. The campaign organizes awareness events, creates educational content for sharing on social media, and works directly with healthcare organizations to improve inclusiveness. By reducing stigma, they make it easier for people to access testing, treatment, and community support.

Advocacy for Improved Treatment

Several organizations advocate for expanded treatment options for buffalo hump and other HIV-associated lipodystrophies. They put pressure on policymakers, healthcare organizations, and pharmaceutical companies to prioritize research into new therapies. Some of the approaches they promote include:

-Investment in clinical trials for existing and experimental treatments targeting fat distribution abnormalities.

-Improved access to reconstructive surgery options for those severely impacted.

-Development of guidelines for multidisciplinary care teams including plastic surgeons, endocrinologists, and mental health professionals.

-Coverage of treatments under public and private insurance plans.

These groups provide valuable resources and a voice for those living with buffalo hump. By joining together, people can work to improve care, expand options, and build a more inclusive society. Check with local HIV/AIDS organizations to find resources and support groups in your area. There are many ways for allies and those personally impacted to get involved in advocacy and awareness efforts.

Advice From Doctors for Those With Buffalo Hump

If you have been diagnosed with buffalo hump, the following advice from doctors may help manage your condition:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Losing excess weight can help reduce the appearance of buffalo hump. Aim for losing 1-2 pounds per week through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Focus on lean proteins, high-fiber whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Engaging in strength or resistance training in addition to cardio exercise will help build muscle to support your neck and improve your posture.

Correct Your Posture

Having a good posture can take pressure off the back of the neck and minimize the prominence of the buffalo hump. When sitting, keep your back straight and supported, feet flat on the floor, and knees slightly higher than your hips. Your computer monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. When walking or standing, roll your shoulders back, keep your chest open, and avoid dropping your chin. Strengthening your core muscles can also help improve your posture.

Use Medical Devices

For some people, medical devices may provide relief from pain or discomfort associated with buffalo hump. A cervical traction unit gently pulls on your neck to provide relief from pressure on the spine. Neck braces or soft collars can also help minimize pain. Talk to your doctor about whether these devices may benefit you based on the severity of your condition.

Consider Surgery

In severe or persistent cases of buffalo hump where conservative treatments have not provided relief, surgery may be recommended as an option to remove excess fat and tissue. The most common procedures are liposuction to remove fat deposits and cervical discectomy or laminectomy to relieve pressure on the neck. Surgery does carry risks, so discuss the pros and cons thoroughly with your doctor to determine if it is the right choice for your situation.

The keys to managing buffalo hump are maintaining an ideal weight, practicing good posture, using medical devices as needed, and in some cases, considering surgical options. While the condition may not be fully reversible, following your doctorโ€™s recommendations can help slow or minimize its progression and reduce discomfort or pain.

Living Well With Buffalo Hump: FAQs Answered

Living with buffalo hump can present unique challenges, but many people are able to manage the condition well with lifestyle changes and treatment. Here are some frequently asked questions about living with buffalo hump.

What causes buffalo hump?

Buffalo hump, also known as dorsocervical fat pad, is excess fat accumulation on the back of the neck. It can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Cushing’s syndrome: Excess cortisol hormone can cause fat redistribution and buffalo hump.
  • HIV medications: Antiretroviral drugs may trigger fat changes leading to buffalo hump.
  • Genetics: Some people are more prone to storing fat in the upper back and neck area.

How can I prevent buffalo hump from getting worse?

To help prevent progression or reduce buffalo hump, focus on:

  • Losing excess weight through diet and exercise. Losing weight, especially in the neck and upper back area, can help.
  • Switching or adjusting medications under a doctor’s guidance. If medications are contributing, alternatives may be available.
  • Improving posture. Practice good posture with shoulders back to avoid a hunched upper back.
  • Doing targeted neck exercises. Exercises that strengthen neck muscles and improve flexibility may help tighten skin and reduce fat pad size.

What treatment options are available for buffalo hump?

Treatment options for buffalo hump include:

  • Liposuction to remove fat deposits. Liposuction is a surgical procedure in which fat cells are suctioned out. It provides the most immediate and effective reduction in buffalo hump size.
  • Laser therapy to tighten skin. Laser treatments use targeted light pulses to tighten skin and contour the neck area. Multiple treatments are typically required.
  • Medications to control contributing factors. If an underlying condition like Cushing’s syndrome is present, medications to control cortisol or other hormones may help improve buffalo hump.
  • Lifestyle changes. Losing excess weight, improving diet, reducing stress, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can all help control buffalo hump over the long term.

By understanding the causes of your buffalo hump and working with your doctor on an integrated treatment plan, you can find ways to successfully manage this condition and avoid progression. While buffalo hump may be a chronic issue, the good news is there are steps you can take to live well despite it.


As you have seen, buffalo hump is a common disorder that does not discriminate based on fame or fortune. Even celebrities at the pinnacle of success suffer from this condition and the self-esteem issues that often accompany it. While surgical and non-invasive treatment options provide hope, learning to accept yourself as you are is the healthiest approach. Focus on surrounding yourself with supportive people who appreciate you for who you are – not just for your appearance or talent. At the end of the day, every single person has physical imperfections and health conditions they live with, regardless of status or profession. Choose to define yourself by your character, values, and accomplishments rather than by how closely you resemble an unrealistic societal standard of beauty. You are so much more than how you look.

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