Stretch marks are visible lines on the skin surface, with an off-color shade. They are mostly found in the abdominal wall, but can also occur on upper arms, over the thighs, buttocks and breasts.
The skin consists of three main layers: Epidermis ( the outer layer ), Dermis ( the middle layer ) and Hypodermic ( the deepest layer ). Stretch marks form in the dermis or middle layer of the skin when the connective tissue is stretched beyond the power of its flexibility due to quick expansion or contraction of the skin.
As skin is stretched, the collagen is weakened and its normal production cycle is damaged. This ultimately results in fine scars under the top layer of the skin. Initially the marks look pink or red, but over time a thin, silvery line appears on the skin surface and become stretch mark.
Stretch marks may occur during various phases of life, may be related to increased cortisol discharge or be associated with increased body mass. The most common cause of stretch marks is pregnancy, and pregnancy-associated with stretch marks are medically known as Striae Gravidarum.
It is thought that the rapid growth of the baby may play a role with their progress, but not all pregnancies produce stretch marks. A relationship between pregnancy, obesity, and increased stretch marks has been reported.
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