Although they are benign xanthelasma are more of a cosmetic concern and patients often elect to have them removed. Xanthelasma are yellowish elongated plaques surrounding the eyelids. These harmless non-cancerous growths are collections of fatty deposits under the surface of the skin. They usually develop around the corners of the upper eyelids though sometimes they can also be observed around the lower eyelids as well. They are typically no bigger than 3 mm in diameter and are often flat and soft in texture. Because of their defined margins and colour xanthelasma are easy to distinguish from other skin features. In some very rare instances abnormally large xanthelasma can interfere with proper eyelid function causing a droopy lid (ptosis) or incomplete lid closure (lagophthalmos).
Xanthelasma are rare in the general population; they are more predominant in women and tend to peak in incidence around 40-50 years of age. In 50% of cases they may be a symptom of elevated cholesterol levels. They may also be associated with underlying metabolic disorders such as diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. As a result patients with xanthelasma should be tested for total cholesterol levels – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad kind) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good kind) — and triglycerides.
Although they are benign xanthelasma are more of a cosmetic concern and patients often elect to have them removed. Treatment options include surgical removal laser ablation liquid nitrogen applications and chemical cautery. Unfortunately despite effective local treatment recurrences can and often do occur.