Xanthelasma Removal

Xanthelasma are yellow cholesterol deposits found around the inner eyelids. While uncommon in the general population, they are seen more often in individuals with high blood cholesterol levels. They are harmless skin growths and do not by itself cause any health problems. Xanthelasma removal with laser surgery is associated with faster healing rates and without the need for stitches.


Image from DermNetNZ.org

About Xanthelasma

Xanthelasma (aka Xanthelasma Palpebrarum) are yellow coloured cholesterol deposits that are found on the eyelids. It may affect the inner aspect of the upper and lower eyelids at the same time. They grow slowly over time, and do not cause symptoms such as itch or pain. They feel soft, and can either remain stable or grow larger over time. Most individuals request xanthelasma removal because of the undesirable cosmetic appearance.

Xanthelasma is more prevalent in women compared to men. The peak age of the appearance of xanthelasma is at the 4th and 5th decades of life.

While most individuals with xanthelasma have high cholesterol levels, xanthelasma can also occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. Dieting and taking medications to control high cholesterol does not readily improve the xanthelasma. Having xanthelasma may be a predictive risk factor for heart attacks and coronary artery diseases. Therefore, it is important to go for a health check if you detect the presence of xanthelasma.

After care following surgery

While healing is good in most individuals after xanthelasma removal, there are some things to take note of. For example, regular application of an antibiotic ointment can reduce infection and improve healing.

Avoiding unnecessary sun exposure can minimise the risk of pigmentation problems of the treated area.

high cholesterol is associated with xanthelasma

Xanthelasma Removal Surgery

There are a variety of treatment options for xanthelasma removal. These include chemical cauterisation, electrosurgery, surgical excision, cryotherapy and laser surgery. Xanthelasma removal with CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Laser surgery is a precise way to destroy the cholesterol deposits. It is associated with less bleeding, faster recovery and without the need for stitches removal.

Following surgery, there is a chance of xanthelasma returning. Studies have shown that xanthelasma may recur in up to a quarter of cases in the first year. This is because some xanthelasma deposits may extend deeper into the skin layers. The rate of recurrence is associated with a high cholesterol levels and multiple eyelids being affected. Repeated treatments may be needed in some cases.

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  1. Christoffersen M, Frikke-Schmidt R, Schnohr P, et al. Xanthelasmata, arcus corneae, and ischaemic vascular disease and death in general population: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2011 Sep 15. 343:d5497.
  2. Basar E, Oguz H, Ozdemir H, et al. Treatment of xanthelasma palpebrarum with argon laser photocoagulation. Argon laser and xanthelasma palpebrarum. Int Ophthalmol. 2004 Jan. 25(1):9-11.
  3. Usatine RP. A cutaneous manifestation of a systemic disease. West J Med. 2000 Feb. 172(2):84.