Associated with putrefaction is the production of gases. These gases, primarily located in the abdomen, cause the body to become distended or bloat. This bloating can cause the affected areas of the body to expand dramatically. Over time the affected areas may rupture or the gas may subside naturally. Skin slippage, or the shedding of the epidermis from the body caused by the deterioration of the junction between the dermis and epidermis, is also associated with early decomposition processes. Many local environmental factors affect the decomposition process, including temperature, moisture, and soil chemistry, but the processes of autolysis and putrefaction are responsible for the chemical breakdown of tissues.
Putrefaction causes color changes in the body including various shades of green, purple, and brown due to the release of pigments from the breakdown of internal structures. In a process called intravascular hemolysis, bacteria increase throughout the circulatory system, resulting in a significant darkening of the vessels, a process referred to as marbling.