Xanthelasma (or xanthelasma palpebrarum) is a sharply demarcated yellowish deposit of fat underneath the skin, usually on or around the eyelids. While they are neither harmful nor painful, these minor growths may be disfiguring and can be removed. They are common in people of Asian origin and those from the Mediterranean region.
Because of the hereditary component, they may or may not indicate high blood levels of cholesterol. Where there is no family history of xanthelasmata, they usually indicate high cholesterol and may correlate with a risk of atheromatous disease.
A xanthelasma may instead be referred to as a xanthoma when becoming larger and nodular, assuming tumorous proportions. Still, xanthelasma is often classified simply as a subtype of xanthoma.
The word is derived from Greek xanthos, ξανθός, "yellow" and έλασμα, elasma, "foil". The plural is xanthelasmata. Palpebrarum is Latin for 'of the eyebrows' (plural genitive case).
A recent conference report — that is not yet published in a peer reviewed journal — claimed to show that the presence of Xanthelasma was associated with increased risk of heart attack of 51% and increased risk of ischemic heart disease of 40%