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Ask the doctor: What can I do about xanthelasma on my eyelids?

August 01, 2011

Q. I'm 70 and in good health. My cholesterol levels are normal. Lately, I've started to get little yellow deposits on my eyelids, which I'm told are xanthelasma. What causes these, and how can I get rid of them?

A. Xanthelasma are soft, cholesterol-filled plaques that develop under the skin, usually on or around the eyelids and most often near the nose. They occur mainly in middle-aged and older adults — and in women more often than in men. Xanthelasma are always benign; that is, they're not cancerous and they don't spread the way a cancer might. They rarely impair vision. But they can be a sign of hyperlipidemia — high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, or other lipids (fats) in the blood.

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