Our Services / Toronto Xanthelasma Removal

What is Xanthelasma?

Xanthelasma, also known as cholesterol deposit are flat, yellow plaques that are most frequently found at the inner corner of the eyelids. They occur more often on the upper eyelid, but can be found on all four lids at once. Often, they appear symmetrically, on both eyes at once. Their texture can vary from soft to hard, but they do not affect the function of the eye. The plaque will grow slowly in size, so surgical intervention is necessary to get rid of it. They are more commonly found in people in their 40s to 50s, and women as opposed to men. They have no potential to turn cancerous, but they are correlated to people with high cholesterol.


Xanthelasma are characterized by flat yellow plaques at the inner corner of the eyes. If you have high cholesterol, it is very likely that you have xanthelasma. Please check with your family doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Xanthelasma can also be a predictor of heart problems, so make sure you consult your doctor for any tests that may need to be done.

An example of a xanthelasma found on the upper inner corner of the eye


Your doctor can usually identify a xanthelasma just by visual examination. Occasionally, a skin biopsy, where a portion of the lesion is excised for testing, may help with the diagnosis.


Usually, no immediate treatment is necessary for xanthelasma. However, many people with xanthelasma do tend to seek treatment, especially since the lesion is always continually growing. This is usually for cosmetic reasons. Although they can be treated with laser, chemicals or by freezing it, surgical excision has the best results and the lowest chance of the lesion recurring. Make sure you see your doctor as soon as the signs of xanthelasma appear. If left too long, the lesion could grow so large that the surgery to excise it could affect the eyelid folds and eye margins.


The surgical procedure to remove xanthelasma is quite easy. The surgery itself would typically take approximately 15 minutes. Local freezing would be used, and about 20-30 minutes would be added to the surgery time to allow for the freezing to set in. However, because of the local freezing, the patient would be fit to drive home afterwards. Once the specimen has been excised, it will be sent to a lab to be tested for any malignancy and to confirm the diagnosis. Stitches will be needed, and will typically be removed 5-14 days later, depending on the size and location of surgery. Redness is normal even after the stitches have been taken out, but after 4-6 months the scar should be hardly visible. There should be minimal to no pain after the local freezing has worn off, but Tylenol Extra Strength can be taken if there is.


The risks of excising xanthelasma are very rare but can include infection, suture reactions, bleeding, bruising, and scarring. If the lesion is too large, it can also affect the shape of your eye. Please speak to your doctor about any medications you are taking and if you have had abnormal scarring (keloids or hypertrophic scars) in the past.


Unfortunately, the surgery to remove xanthelasma is not covered by OHIP. A consultation with Dr. Hong is recommended to find out the exact price for your procedure. Without a referral from your family doctor, an $80 consultation fee will be required, but it will be applied towards the cost of the surgery. There is no additional fee for follow up appointments such as the removal of sutures.

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