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Your Guide to Treating Xanthelasma

If you have yellowish lumps around your eyes that have a soft, flat appearance, you may have a condition known as xanthelasma palpebrarum (xanthelasma for short). Sometimes, the lumps may have an elevated, fatty appearance. Xanthelasma is caused by cholesterol deposits that pool beneath the skin. Keep reading for everything that you need to know about treating and managing xanthelasma.

Xanthelasma May Indicate an Underlying Medical Problem

While anyone can develop xanthelasma, some patients with xanthelasma have an underlying medical condition that’s contributing to the formation of the lumps. These patients often have abnormal levels of blood lipids. They may have high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, or a combination of the two. 

Xanthelasma can also indicate that a patient is at an increased risk of suffering from heart disease or other heart problems. For these reasons, it’s important for patients with xanthelasma to undergo a complete medical examination as part of their xanthelasma treatment.

If the examination finds that you’re suffering from abnormal lipid levels or suffer from other health problems, it’s important to get these issues under control. Your doctor may recommend that you lose weight, begin an exercise program, stop smoking, or change your diet to promote healthier lipid levels.

Once your lipid levels are normal, this usually prevents xanthelasma from worsening in appearance. However, improving your lipid levels won’t completely decrease the appearance of your existing xanthelasma. This makes it necessary for you to pursue removal options.

It Usually Isn’t Medically Necessary to Remove Xanthelasma

Most of the time, xanthelasma doesn’t cause problems for the patient. This means that xanthelasma removal is usually viewed as a cosmetic procedure (even if underlying medical problems have contributed to the xanthelasma formation).

However, there are a small number of patients who experience issues with the functioning of their eyelids due to their xanthelasma. The xanthelasma may cause their eyelids to droop, potentially obscuring their vision or making it difficult for them to open and close the eyes. If you’re in this category, your dermatologist can suggest procedures for removal that are likely to be covered by your insurance. 

You Have Multiple Options for Removing Xanthelasma

If you dislike the appearance of your xanthelasma or feel like it interferes with your vision or the functioning of your eyelids, talk to your dermatologist regarding options for removing the lumps. There are numerous removal options, but the best alternative depends on your budget and the severity of your xanthelasma.

Cases where the xanthelasma is relatively minor and has a low profile may be treated with prescription statins. These drugs treat high cholesterol and often reduce the size of xanthelasma. A benefit of this treatment is that it’s often covered by insurance, even if your xanthelasma is only causing cosmetic issues. However, it takes longer than other treatment methods to treat the xanthelasma.

Surgery is an option for removing xanthelasma with a single procedure. Unless your xanthelasma is causing immediate problems, surgery usually isn’t covered by insurance. There’s a longer recovery time associated with surgical removal, and it might leave your eyes looking swollen and bruised for a couple weeks. 

Chemical peels often improve the appearance of xanthelasma, but they may not completely eliminate the lumps. However, a chemical peel is relatively affordable, especially when compared to surgical removal options. Freezing off the xanthelasma is another cost-effective procedure best suited to minor cases of xanthelasma. 

Talk to your dermatologist to see which removal method is best for your specific situation. Some severe cases of xanthelasma or disfiguring xanthelasma may require surgical removal. Regardless of which removal method you choose, make sure that you treat any underlying medical conditions that have contributed to your xanthelasma. Otherwise, you have a high risk of the lumps returning. 

Ready to explore treatment solutions for your xanthelasma? Contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, to schedule an appointment. 

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