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Striae, or “stretch marks”, begin as reddish or purple lesions, which can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to appear in places where larger amounts of fat are stored. The most common places are the abdomen (especially near the navel), breasts, upper arms, underarms, back, thighs (both inner and outer), hips, and buttocks. Over time, they tend to atrophy and lose pigmentation. The affected areas appear empty, and are soft to the touch.
Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the resilient middle tissue layer that helps the skin retain its shape. They can (but do not always) cause a burning and itching sensation, as well as emotional distress.
The key causes of stretch marks are gender, skin type, genetics, pregnancy, adrenal gland disorders, rapid weight loss or gain, and using corticosteroid medication.
No stretch marks will form as long as there is support within the dermis; stretching plays a role in where the marks occur and in what direction they run. Weight gain that will alter the body shape drastically will result in stretching the skin, thus causing the formation of stretch marks.
Young women are generally affected the most, especially following pregnancy. People who suffer from eating disorders and obesity will be affected by stretch marks. Individuals with hormonal imbalances and vitamin deficiencies are also prone to developing stretch marks.
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Before and After photos