Stretch marks (striae) happen when the middle layer of your skin (dermis) is stretched to where its elasticity starts to break down. What happens next is that microscopic bleeding and inflammation of the tissue occurs. This shows up on the skin as raised reddish purple-y colored newly formed stretch marks.
They are visible through the outer layer of skin (epidermis) because it will stretch just like the middle layer. They scar as they heal and then eventually they'll fade to a color that's lighter than your skin tone, unfortunately. Why can't they stay the same color as your skin? Well, as the dermis gets overstretched, the body's collagen production function gets thrown out of whack, and you can lose the skin cells that produce pigment.
Stretch marks show up on the body in lots of different places, and for many different reasons. They are most likely to form where large amounts of fat are stored. While they don't pose a health risk, it's best to take care of yourself and keep them from forming in the first place.
Try not to stress your body out. When your body senses stress, it goes into a survival mode in order to cope and will store fat more easily and faster than normal. An extreme amount of weight gain in a short timeframe causes stretch marks. Avoid poor eating habits, excessive caffeine intake and smoking. Other things that can put stress on your body and cause stretch marks to form are:
Pregnancy - More than 75% of women who are pregnant will get stretch marks on their abdomens. They will also usually appear on the breasts, thighs and buttocks.
Growth Spurts - The teen years are hard enough as it is, and growth spurts often leave stretch marks. Luckily, stretch marks that appear during these adolescent years fade over time and are much less noticeable than stretch marks that form when you're older.
Weightlifting - You can get stretch marks on your upper arms and shoulders if a large amount of muscle is built up quickly.
To diminish stretch marks, there are chemical peels, laser surgery, light therapy and creams. The best thing is prevention, though! Keep your skin healthy with vitamins, drink water, exercise, and get massages regularly.
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