This article reports an analysis of the first detailed chemistry direct numerical simulation (DNS) of a high Karlovitz number laboratory premixed flame. The DNS results are first compared with those from laser-based diagnostics with good agreement. The subsequent analysis focuses on a detailed investigation of the flame area, its local thickness and their rates of change in isosurface following reference frames, quantities that are intimately connected. The net flame stretch is demonstrated to be a small residual of large competing terms: the positive tangential strain term and the negative curvature stretch term. The latter is found to be driven by flame speed–curvature correlations and dominated in net by low probability highly curved regions. Flame thickening is demonstrated to be substantial on average, while local regions of flame thinning are also observed. The rate of change of the flame thickness (as measured by the scalar gradient magnitude) is demonstrated, analogously to flame stretch, to be a competition between straining tending to increase gradients and flame speed variations in the normal direction tending to decrease them. The flame stretch and flame thickness analyses are connected by the observation that high positive tangential strain rate regions generally correspond with low curvature regions; these regions tend to be positively stretched in net and are relatively thinner compared with other regions. High curvature magnitude regions (both positive and negative) generally correspond with lower tangential strain; these regions are in net negatively stretched and thickened substantially.