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Eyelid Growths

By James Garrity, MD

The skin of the eyelids is a common site for benign and malignant growths.


Xanthelasma is a common, benign deposit of yellow-white flat plaques of lipid material that occur subcutaneously on the upper and lower eyelids. Although some people with xanthelasmas have dyslipidemias, most do not. Diagnosis is by appearance. No treatment is necessary, although xanthelasmas can be removed for cosmetic reasons, and underlying dyslipidemias should be treated.

Basal cell carcinoma

This skin cancer frequently occurs at the eyelid margins, at the inner canthus, and on the upper cheek (see also Basal Cell Carcinoma). Metastasis is rare. Biopsy establishes the diagnosis. Treatment is surgical excision using conventional techniques or by Mohs surgery.

Other malignant growths

These types of growths are less common; they include squamous cell carcinoma (see page Squamous Cell Carcinoma), meibomian gland carcinoma, and melanomas (see page Melanoma). Eyelid growths may simulate chronic blepharitis (see page Blepharitis : Chronic) or chronic chalazion (see page Chalazion and Hordeolum (Stye)). Therefore, chronic blepharitis, chronic chalazion, or similar lesions should be biopsied if unresponsive to initial treatment.

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