What is Excision of Eyelid Tumor?

Eyelids tumors are common, especially in aging dogs. The vast majority are benign, meaning they do not spread to other parts of the body, but they can irritate the surface of the eye (cornea) or distort the eyelid. 

Removal of the mass is usually curative and may be done in first opinion practice or by a specialist. A procedure called 'V-plasty' where a wedge-shaped piece of tissue is removed is the most common surgery, although some specialists also use cryosurgery for small masses. If the tumor is small, under 2-3 mm, and static in size then monitoring for change or corneal irritation is acceptable.

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Excision of Eyelid Tumor Procedure in Dogs

The vet carefully assesses the eyelid tumor to see if it warrants removal, such as it is enlarging rapidly, bleeds, or irritates the cornea. Removal requires full general anesthetic in order to keep the patient still for what is very delicate surgery. In older patients, this means careful assessment, including blood work, so that any factors that could make anesthesia more risky can be corrected. 

On the day of the surgery the dog should have an empty stomach prior to the anesthetic. They are given a pre-med injection containing a combination of sedatives and pain relief, and a short time later anesthesia is induced via a vein in the the front leg. Then a tube is passed into the dog's windpipe through which anesthetic gas is delivered.

The surgeon is equipped with special, fine gauge instruments that are suitable for such delicate work. The surface of the cornea is protected, whilst the surgeon uses a sharp blade to cut a 'V' shaped wedge of tissue out of the eyelid, hence removing the tumor. The skin edges are drawn back together and sutured in place in such a way that not suture material is in contact with the cornea. 

The dog wakes up, and must wear a cone for 7 - 10 days to prevent them rubbing the eye and causing wound breakdown. 

Efficacy of Excision of Eyelid Tumor in Dogs

Surgery is highly effective with this simple procedure, leading to a complete removal of the associated tumor. Since these lumps are benign, they are not liable to spread and so taking it away effectively cures the problem. 

However, it should be noted that there is nothing to prevent the dog developing a new lump of the same type in another location in the future. This is not spread from the first lesion, but purely a matter of the dog being prone to develop these lumps. 

For small eyelid tumors, cryosurgery is an alternative treatment. Cryosurgery uses extreme cold to damage and kill tissue. A small disposable cryo unit is used that has a delicate probe tip, suitable for highly accurate positioning. 

One obvious problem with this method is having extreme cold so close to the cornea or the rest of the eyelid. Success depends on shielding the cornea from damage and only using short freeze cycles, so the damage to the tissue is highly localized to the lump. Thus cryosurgery works best for small lumps only.

Excision of Eyelid Tumor Recovery in Dogs

It is important the dog does not rub the eye whilst the eyelid is healing, or they could dislodge the sutures and cause the wound to open up. Wearing a cone for the duration of the recovery period is usually sufficient to prevent this. 

Given the difficult nature of the removing sutures from the eyelid, the surgeon usually uses an absorbable suture material which dissolves of its own accord. It takes around 7 - 14 days for the eyelid to heal, which most surgeons, erring on the side of caution, suggest keeping the cone on for 10 - 14 days. 

It is common for the eyelid to swell in the days following surgery, but this usually subsides uneventfully. The dog may be given pain relief to take at home for the first few days following surgery, but in most cases, antibiotics are not required. 

Once the eyelid has healed, there should be no recurrence of the lump at that site, however 'de novo' or new, unrelated lumps, may grow at some point in the future. 

Cost of Excision of Eyelid Tumor in Dogs

The surgery itself is relatively straightforward and quick, and a big part of the cost is that of preoperative work up and the anesthetic itself. A pre-op blood panel ranges from $50 - $150, depending on how extensive the parameters are. 

The cost of anesthesia is variable depending on the size of the dog (smaller dogs use less anesthetic) and the type of anesthetic agent involved. A conservative estimate for a small dog would be $100, whilst a large dog could cost up to three times this amount. Expect to pay around $80 - $150 for the actual surgery itself. Then there will be add-on costs such as pain relief (an injection of a typical NSAID painkiller may be around $20), and a cone $6 - $12, depending on size. 

All in all, expect to pay anywhere from a low end $250 to a high end $630.

Dog Excision of Eyelid Tumor Considerations

In themselves, eyelid tumors are rarely life-threatening or dangerous in their own right. However, their location can cause problems such as distortion of the eyelid or trauma to the cornea. When the dog blinks, a large eyelid tumor rubs backward and forward over the surface of the eye, which can cause inflammation or even ulceration of the surface. 

The vet may wish to send the lump away to the lab for analysis, to double check the tumor is benign, but this is not always essential. 

Excision of Eyelid Tumor Prevention in Dogs

Surgery is not always essential for small eyelid tumors that do not cause irritation and are not growing rapidly. In the case of an elderly dog, the anesthetic risk may outweigh any benefit from removing the lump, in which case the vet may suggest monitoring its growth. 

Unfortunately, there is no known prevention for the development of eyelid tumors, so vigilance and monitoring are key to decision making. 

Excision of Eyelid Tumor Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

13 1/2
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

no symptoms

Hi:13 1/2 year-old fem. Beagle in excellent shape. Developed small (1/8") cyst on outer eyelid (lower lid near corner) perhaps 9-12 months ago. Hard, shiny, black. Has grown to 1/4" & appears as if it's bulging just a very tiny bit in the inside of the lid. It seems that it must be bothering her as it rubs against her eye, yet she acts as if it doesn't exist. Her annual exam next month-I'm going to have to have it removed as it probably will grow. I'm a poor old man so need an approximation of cost as I have to find a way to have it done for her. Northern Ca. Thanks so much!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1444 Recommendations
It sounds like it may be a meibomian gland adenoma which may cost around $800; however, it may be able to be frozen and if that is the case the cost would be significantly less, but this would be seen on a case by case basis. I would recommend calling your Veterinarian and asking them for a ballpark figure so that you have a more accurate idea of cost and ask them about possible cryosurgery options. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/skills-laboratory-cryosurgery-eyelid-masses

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Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Thickened third eyelid, eye redness

My 9 year old puppy needs her third eyelid removed due to a tumor. She had redness (End of July) that responded eventually to Neo poly dex (she was initially on tobromycin, which helped the redness but not completely) Recently she was squinting and seemed unconfortable. The vet ophthamologist brought up the third eyelid and I could see that it was thickened and more rough-looking than the other eye's one.The diagnosis is a third eyelid tumor and the recommendation is for the complete removal of the third eyelid. Was wondering about average cost in the western NY region or at least a general idea

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1444 Recommendations
Cost of surgery varies widely from location to location but also Veterinarian to Veterinarian as surgeries like this are considered back-end fees which are not published on their price list so can vary from practice to practice within the same town. I would budget between $500-$1,000; but I am not familiar with the west NY state area, I would suggest calling around some practices to get a ballpark from them. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Cocker Spaniel
12 Years
Mild condition
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Has Symptoms


My dog has a lump on the top of his eye. It does not seem to hurt him but is blocking his Vision. Occasionally he hits it and it bleeds. We want to get it looked at but due to my husband becoming disabled we have limited funds. Any cost ideas???

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1444 Recommendations

Cost for surgery would vary on the severity, whether or not you have histopathology, whether you visit a Specialist and more importantly your location. A consultation with a General Veterinarian will cost around $50 to $100 depending on the Veterinarian and your location; it would be worth visiting a Veterinarian to examine the mass and to give you an accurate quotation, surgeries of the type in the USA can go up in the low thousands. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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