The most popular post I’ve written is this one. It’s about an irritating skin condition I’ve got called xanthelasma: fat deposits in the eye area that in my case manifest themselves as a yellowish caulifloweresque growth over each of my eyes and another under my left one.
It’s ugly. It sucks. I hate it.
I decided to write about my pet Xanth a couple of years ago, when I was doing the Master Cleanse in an attempt to get rid of these hideous mushroom-like beasts that have taken up residence on my face.
The response was explosive!
Apparently I’m not the only one googling for potential cures, spending ridiculous sums at the health food store and wearing sunglasses inside and out year-round in a futile attempt to mask a condition that’s as unattractive as it is tenacious. The comments continue to roll in, as people stumble upon my blog and chime in with rumored cures, personal treatment attempts, surgery stories, successful and not.
So, I figure it’s my duty to sift through the 214 comments and enumerate the possible solutions along with their pros and cons. Even if there’s no obvious treatment, anyone coming here looking for answers can at least find a relatively quick and easy resource guide.
1. Surgery: You can have xanthelasma surgically removed. Pay a doctor—I suggest a plastic surgeon—a large sum of money and he or she will cut the bugger off. I had this done twice, back when my very first one was the size of a small freckle. Obviously, it came back—and it mushroomed when I was pregnant with Aidan. (According to the comments on the original post, many xanthomas appear or flourish during pregnancy.) So I started searching for a natural cure, something I hoped would heal them from the inside—or at least not cost me $700 a pop just so they could come back six months later. That said, surgery remains a viable option.
2. Laser Surgery: About a year ago, I was going to have one of mine removed by a surgeon my dermatologist recommended. When I presented her with a study that recommended laser surgery over the scalpel, she concurred and referred me to a laser surgeon. She also told me to wait in case I decided to have any more kids since pregnancy triggers xanth growth. You can read that whole saga here. People who have commented on my blog have had good results with laser surgery. However, it is even more expensive than the old-fashioned kind, it is not covered by insurance and there is a high incidence of recurrence post-surgery.
3. Garlic: Many of the commenters on my post have applied raw garlic to their xanthelasma with excellent results. This is something I actually tried myself. It burned like crazy and by the second day of applying it, my face swelled up as if someone had slugged me and I developed a monstrous black scab on the spot where I had applied the garlic. I was scared off and stopped. That said, I might try again. Several commenters who have had tremendous success say you just have to muscle through the discomfort. You let it scar, wait till the scar falls off and do it again. As ugly as it gets, keep going until the xanthelasma is gone—and it will go. Underneath, new baby-pink skin apparently awaits. Read the comments on my original post, especially those by a guy named Robert, for detailed instructions.
4. TCA: Sharon, a woman on CureZone, had very good luck with something called a TCA (Trichloroacetic acid) peel. She bought hers from a company called Redvenus, but it also available through Amazon and other online stores. She says there was pain and swelling, but ultimately she did get rid of her xanthelasma. I emailed Sharon and she sent me an after-shot that was incredible. I am posting it below. While there is a scar, the growths are gone. Sharon updated her post on CureZone to say they recurred, but she was able to remove them again with TCA and makeup covers them completely.
5. Lipase: Someone posted a link suggesting that an enzyme called lipase, applied topically with a “carrier agent” such as aloe, can help remove moles, boils, xanthelasma, etc. One woman has been applying it daily, but she’s yet to see results. I asked the manager at my local health food store and she was skeptical, but she sold me a product called Lypo Gold, which contains lipase and is used to optimize fat digestion. (The idea being that, like trying the Master Cleanse, it might break down the xanth, which is a fat deposit.) She said not to expect miracles, but it couldn’t hurt. So far, the xanth is still there—and I haven’t turned skinny either. (That might require cutting down my chocolate consumption.) Another note: high quantities of lipase are found in avocado and unpasteurized, raw dairy products, so it might be worth adding those products to your diet if you’re a xanth sufferer.
6. Diet: Those (like myself) who suspect that there could be a dietary solution, I give you the words of one commenter: “I went on a macrobiotic diet: only fresh whole grains, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, no refined sugars, no processed foods, no refined flour products, very little natural sugars, lots of vegetables, home cooked legumes, and fish once or twice a week. I don’t smoke or drink alcohol. So, I don’t think there’s anything more I could do with diet.” She still has raging xanthelasma.
7. Bleomycin: One of the more promising studies someone posted involved the effects of a drug called Bleomycin A5 solution injections. The conclusion: “Bleomycin A5 can rapidly…induce xanthelasma disappearance. Bleomycin A5 is an easy and safe method to treat eyelid xanthelasma and can be widely used in clinical work.” When I emailed the study to my derm, she was impressed, but this treatment does not seem to be available yet.
8. The $180 wonder cream: A company in Singapore is selling something called Xanthelasma Cream for $180. One commenter, Judy, was buying it and I am eagerly awaiting a report. Wonder cream #2: Someone also posted a link about a cream called Spotaway. The company, Proderma, looks legitimate. I wanted to get their product immediately, but it wasn’t available in the U.S. I emailed and never received a response. I also tried saying I was from France, Ireland and Germany, thinking I could have a friend buy it for me, but it seems Spotaway is the one Proderma product unavailable in those countries. Very fishy.
9. Concealer: Until we can find a way to actually get rid of the fuckers, most of us spend a lot of time applying makeup to them. Most commenters on the blog like Dermablend. While I think it’s okay, I prefer Stila Perfecting Concealer. It’s thicker and stays on longer.
Grab bag of other possible cures:
Rescue Remedy: Someone suggested trying to apply Rescue Remedy directly to the xanth. Why the hell not? I have no data on this.
Homeopathy: A Pakistani friend who rid herself of warts with the use of homeopathy suggested I try this for the xanth. One commenter, however, said she spent many months and dollars on so-called homeopathic cures, with absolutely no results.
Liver cleanses: I had a similar experience with a liver cleanse, i.e. spent a lot of money on a fancy one. While I’m sure it had other fantastic effects on my body, as far as the xanthelasma: Nada.
Colonics plus: Hoping and praying for a natural cure, I saw a holistic doctor in L.A. for some time and, on her recommendation, started doing regular colon cleanses and taking a phospholipid called phosphatidylcholine, also with no results whatsoever.
Lecithin plus cider vinegar: One commenter is taking Lecithin (a phosholipid like the one I was taking) three times a day and applying cider vinegar topically. She reported that the xanth seemed to be going down slightly, but never posted to say it was gone completely.
Wart medication: One woman’s xanth disappeared completely after using a “Wartner Wart Gel Pen” for three days. What followed was two weeks of what she calls, “yucky scabbing which I have managed by salt/boiled water cleaning and vaseline and vitamin e oil at night,” which sounds a lot like the garlic. Her xanth are gone.
Iodine: One woman, Anik, is taking iodine internally with water and dabbing it on topically. She says the xanth are shrinking slowly, but they are not completely gone.
Be a guinea pig! Saluja Cosmetic and Laser Center in Huntersville, NC is recruiting people with xanthelasma to take part in a study. Participants will receive laser therapy at a reduced rate. If I lived in the area, I would definitely investigate.
So, you might ask, what am I planning to do?
At some point, I will probably shell out the big bucks for laser surgery, despite the recurrence that everyone on my blog reports. It is clean, painless, legal and effective—at least temporarily.
In the meantime, I feel I have to explore other options. I will definitely speak to my dermatologist about the Bleomycin, which sounds like an incredible solution, and see if there is anyone who can do the injections. Maybe she can do it herself? I am also waiting patiently and with fingers crossed for a report from Judy, the woman who bought the miracle cream.
If none of that pans out, I will probably go for the TCA peel that Sharon used. The results are similar to the garlic, but the process seems to be slightly less excruciating.
If anyone has any other recommendations for me and my not-so-merry band of xanthelasma sufferers, please send them along!