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Eye diseases

Xanthelasmas

Xantelasmas
They are not usually serious or uncomfortable.
High cholesterol is the main risk factor.
Surgery, laser or medical peels treat them.

What are xanthelasmas?

Xanthelasmas are small benign tumours, composed of cholesterol (fat) esters, which form under the skin of the eyelids or around them, often in the area near the tear duct.

We speak of unilateral xanthelasma, if these fatty accumulations are located in only one eye, and of bilateral xanthelasma, when it appears in both eyes. They can also appear in other body areas, such as the elbows, knees or buttocks (in which case they are called xanthomas).

Xanthelasmas are yellowish lumps that will feel more or less hard to the touch. They are not serious and generally do not cause any discomfort; they only represent an aesthetic alteration. However, they can obstruct vision if they grow and interfere with the field of vision.

You should also be aware that xanthelasmas do not decrease or disappear on their own.

They occur most often in adult and elderly patients. On many occasions, xanthelasmas can have an unknown origin (idiopathic), although this is not always the case and can also be an indication of a high level of cholesterol in the blood. This can occur for different reasons, such as hypercholesterolemia, diabetes or diseases such as biliary cirrhosis.

Furthermore, some data suggests that xanthelasmas may also be more likely to occur if you are under great emotional stress.

  • Surgery: This is a simple, minimally invasive operation that we perform at the Miranza clinics on an outpatient basis and under local anaesthesia to remove the fat nodule. We usually choose this option when the xanthelasmas are located on the upper eyelids, as we can hide the scar, or when they are deep, since their removal by other means may lead to worse scars.
  • Laser: When the xanthelasmas are small and located on a very superficial level, we can resort to fractionated CO2 laser, which is highly precise and effective, as it acts selectively, vaporising the affected area and completely respecting the surrounding tissues.
  • Medical peels: We perform them by applying a chemical solution which, after several sessions, removes the superficial skin layers until it reaches the base of the xanthelasmas and makes them disappear completely. You should not confuse this treatment with cosmetic peels, which we also perform at our clinics.
  • Medication: Drugs prescribed to treat high cholesterol (usually statins) can alleviate the problem, but xanthelasmas usually reappear when they are stopped.

Regardless of the treatment used, you should be aware that xanthelasmas can reappear if the cause of the problem persists. In any case, it is usually a good idea to get rid of them so that they do not get bigger and bigger.