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What Is Stretch Marks?


Stretch marks are lines found on the skin that develops because of the tissue right below tear due to over-stretching or rapid expansion. They may develop during various stages of our life. Moreover, they do affect both men and women. Men develop stretch marks possibly through extreme changes in weight and also through engaging in muscle and body building activities. On the other hand, women usually get stretch marks during pregnancy and through weight flux and hormonal changes as well.


Stretch marks develop when the dermis, which is the middle layer of our skin, gets stretched to the point that its elasticity starts to break down. This then causes some form of microscopic bleeding plus inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Thus, the affected part appears to have some raised lines, which are symptoms of newly formed stretch marks. Depending on your natural skin tone, stretch marks usually start out as reddish to dark brown or even pinkish in color. Later on, it turns into purple.


The epidermis, which is the outer layer of our skin, stretches as well. It thus becomes a bit translucent so we can see the formation of stretch marks with our naked eye. As our skin recovers, scarring takes place and causes the appearance of light-colored lines that we typically call stretch marks. The once raised marks flatten and fade into a hue that is several shades lighter than your natural skin tone.


General Affected Parts


The areas that are generally affected are the following:


• Abdominal area - for women, stretch marks appear on this region of the body because of the uncontrolled expansion of the skin during pregnancy or extreme weight gain. It all depends on the general elasticity of the skin relative to the kind of expansion that would take place. If the skin has a lot of collagen and is used to regular expansion and contraction, then the marks would not be that obvious. If the opposite is true, then it logically follows that the marks would be more obvious.


• Breast area - during pregnancy this part of the body also experiences expansion, because the mammary glands are preparing itself for breastfeeding after a few months. The activation of the milk-producing glands within the breasts are known to cause hormone changes. The hormone changes are often to account also for the stretch marks, as fluid builds heavily inside the breasts, stretching the skin.


• Thighs - this happens often to both men and women; women don’t have to be pregnant to have stretch marks on the thigh. Stretch marks in this area of the body are often related to weight gain and the pear-shaped obesity pattern. The pear-shaped obesity pattern distributes the excess fat to the lower portions of the body, especially the thighs and the buttocks.


• Lower back - the presence of stretch marks on the lower portion of the human body, again, is attributed to generalized weight gain. In the case of obesity patterns, the addition of fat to the lower portion is also linked with the pear-shaped obesity pattern.


• Hips - the same goes for the hips, though it is generally harder to lose stretch marks on the hips since weight gain often immediately adds to this part of the body, thereby significantly increasing the girth of this area, sometimes overnight.