What is Xanthelasma?
Xanthelasma is a skin condition that results in tiny deposits of fat in the skin. The xanthelasma plques are usually creamy-white or yellowish, and found on the upper or lower eyelids.
What causes Xanthelasma?
Whilst the exact cause of xanthelasma is generally unknown, about one half of cases are associated with high levels of blood fat (hyperlipidemia). Xanthelasma is more common in women, and most common at ages 40-50.
What tests will I need if I have Xanthelasma?
Usually, no x-rays or scans are needed. Since Xanthelasma can be caused by lipid disorders, though, you may well have blood tests to check your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.
Is Xanthelasma dangerous? Can it spread?
No, xanthelasma is not dangerous. The plaques are benign and do not spread to other organs. They can be cosmetically problematic though, and very rarely can grow to a size that causes heaviness on the eyelids and so can impair vision.
What is the treatment for Xanthelasma?
Xanthelasma are not dangerous, so treatment is usually not an absolute requirement. They can be cosmetically problematic though, and treatment includes:
Surgery - for smaller clumps of xanthelasma, surgery can be highly successful. The operation tends to be under local anesthetic (ie with you awake), and takes only a short amount of time. Scars can often be placed to lie in line with eyelid creases. Sometimes, however, scarring can be quite noticeable, and bruising and swelling can last for a few days.
Laser treatment - xanthelasma can be effectively treated with the carbon dioxide laser. This does not require any stitches, but can lead to hypopigmentation (paleness) of the treated skin
Chemical treatment - various medical acids have been used to treat xanthelasma, often with excellent results. Hypopigmentation can again be a risk of treatment
Any of these procedures involving xanthelasma treatment can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. In addition, in up to 40% of cases xanthelasma can return after treatment and further future treatment may be required.
This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.
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The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding on the right procedure for you. If you have any concerns about a skin growth, seek medical advice immediately. Please also read our disclaimer