lipodystrophy and Buffalo Hump....
Mar 8, 2000
dear Doctor: I was diagnosed HIV 13 years ago and everything was fine until I started taking Crix+3tc+d4t a year and a half ago. After 5 months, my body had completely changed: very skinny and veiny legs and arms, loss of weight and size. I talked to my doctor and a year ago I switched Crix for Viracept. I saw the fat under my armpits disappeared and everything but my chins seemed stable. So, at last, I had plastic surgery (with ARTECOL) - I'm writing from South America - and I so glad I did !!!! But I just noticed something I had thought a bad movement at the gym and I had it almost for a year: a tiny but noticeable bump, hard, in the middle of my back, under my neck. I had a doctor friend checking it, thinking it was the bone, and he told me it was fat. So, I believe I'm developing a buffalo hump. I have several questions: Is that the way it looks? (it's completely painless but very hard) Is it already developed or it might go on? Is there anything that can be done? any kind of exercise that might help, at least in order to expand that fat? Is it common? To be honest, you have to look carefully in order to notice it but while touching, you can feel it. This amount of fat is what you call buffalo hump or it can become something larger and difficult to hide ??
Thanks for answering
Response from Dr. Henry
The term buffalo hump usually refers to a quite noticeable enlargement at the base of the neck in the back which sounds different than you describe though at early stages it starts off small. The cause is not certain but clearly the HIV meds (Protease inhibitors and some of the nuke drugs like D4T) can contribute. There is no treatment that works with a high degree of certainty yet. Oral diabetic drugs, growth hormone, switching the HIV meds around, stopping the HIV meds for a time are all approaches that work sometimes and are under evaluation. What is right for you depends on many individual factors that need to be reviewed with your HIV doc. The good news is that this problem is not getting more attention so that over the next several years we should learn more about the why it happens and how to manage it. Keith Henry, M.D.
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