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When a person gains weight suddenly, the skin expands to accommodate the increase in body weight and the change in shape. It is true that the skin is elastic and can be stretched to a certain limit.

When a person gains weight suddenly, the skin expands to accommodate the increase in body weight and the change in shape. It is true that the skin is elastic and can be stretched to a certain limit. However, once this limit is crossed, the innermost layer of the skin tears. Once that underlying layer is no longer intact, the skin appears to be streaked. As soon as the skin tears, pink or purple lines appear as the capillaries burst, and after some time these lines look silvery white. These lines, known as stretch marks, are in fact scars. As you might conclude, they are a result of skin tearing.

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Stretch marks occur in the dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin. This layer is elastic and hence allows the skin to retain its shape. When repeatedly stretched, the dermis breaks, causing stretch marks. Most commonly, men and women have stretch marks on their thighs, abdomen, hips, breasts, and upper arms. Once stretch marks appear they are practically permanent, or at least difficult to get rid of. Products that claim that their use can either prevent or remove stretch marks are misleading. The only thing possible is to reduce their visibility, which is also hard. [1

Causes of stretch marks may include any of the following [1]:


•    Cushing syndrome
•    Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
•    Pregnancy
•    Puberty
•    Obesity
•    Overuse of cortisone skin creams

Using Lotions: Lotions for the treatment of stretch marks contain alpha hydoxy acid. This substance removes the skin cells on top, allowing healthier skin cells to grow. [2]

These lotions work very gradually and must be used over a long period of time, so if use is discontinued the results will be lost. Formulations with vitamin A, C and E help in diminishing the appearance of visible stretch marks.

Surgical Treatment: Probably the most effective is chemical peeling or lasers. These treatments can guarantee the removal of stretch mark scars. They can be used only to a certain depth, which allows skin to be removed without causing scarring. Results will vary depending on age and skin color.

This treatment is not used on people with dark skin. This is the only sure shot way of getting rid of visible stretch marks at the moment.
       
Nutrition and Diet: If you want to try a diet you should eat foods rich in zinc (nuts and fish), foods with a high content of vitamin A, C, and D (citrus fruits, dairy products and carrots), and protein-rich food (eggs). This can improve the overall quality of your skin and prevent stretch marks. [3]

It is recommended to drink plenty of water, at least 8-10 glasses per day. Adequate water intake will make your skin soft and supple, thus preventing it from tearing. At the same time you should reduce the intake of tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks.

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