From cats entangled in bands to human fingers caught in rings — we’ve likely all heard about, or even experienced, the unpleasant notion of degloving.
But what exactly does it mean? And more importantly, what can be done to prevent, or treat it? Today, we’re breaking down the details of degloving, and discussing the potential causes, as well as available treatments, so that you can be better prepared to handle the situation should it ever occur.
[Note: If you were in a California accident and experienced this injury, contact our California degloving accident and injury lawyers today for a free case review. These are serious injuries that require an attorney with experience on your side.
Degloving is a type of injury that occurs when skin and tissue are torn away from the underlying muscle or bone, often caused by a severe traumatic accident. The term “degloving” is derived from the appearance of the injury; which looks as though the skin has been pulled off like a glove.
What is Degloving & What Does It Mean?
Degloving is a type of traumatic skin injury that occurs when the outer layer of the skin is removed from its underlying tissue, such as blood vessels and muscle. The loss of skin can occur due to an accident, a medical procedure, or a skin infection.
Degloving injuries are often severe injuries, exposing nerves and other internal structures; thus leaving deep wounds that require intensive medical care to prevent complications, such as infection.
Supporters of the argument suggest that degloving injuries are not always avoidable in some circumstances, for example when treating chronic foot ulcers. The lack of protective epidermal layers or compromised skin integrity leaves people vulnerable to degloving during treatment. Furthermore, there are many instances where people have suffered degloving through motor vehicle accidents and natural disasters. Due to their severity and potential for long-term negative effects, degloving can be an emotionally and physically taxing process for those affected by it.
On the contrarly, opponents of the concept argue that degloving is largely unavoidable but preventable. For instance, medical professionals may take precautionary measures such as applying proper medications prior to a surgical procedure help reduce the possibility of a patient experiencing degloving. Additionally, people should always exercise caution when in risky environments such as construction sites or any area with items that may cause trauma to their skin.
Regardless both sides agree degloving injuries can cause significant personal distress, physical scarring and even disability if left untreated. Therefore, all survivors must be aware of the danger and take proactive measures when possible to protect themselves from running the risk of potentially being exposed. With proper awareness and preventive steps being taken by individuals and medical professionals alike, we can work together towards mitigating the incidence of serious degloving injuries. As we examine the causes behind these types of woundings in greater detail next, it’s important to understand they are not always completely unavoidable.
Causes of Degloving
The causes of degloving vary greatly, depending on the severity of injury, how much of the skin has been removed and which areas of the body are affected. In general, any kind of blunt force trauma or biological trauma that results in a tear or break in the skin can lead to degloving. This includes physical injuries such as burns, car accidents, animal bites, falls and motorcycle accidents. It can also be caused by medical conditions, such as diabetes and other diseases that cause skin damage.
Some might argue that most degloving injuries occur due to negligence, but research shows that often times when it occurs due to an accident or act of violence, it’s through no fault of the victim’s. For example, a study conducted in 2017 found that 51 percent of degloving injuries occurred when individuals were involved in road traffic accidents. Additionally, many traumatic cases involving children and elders with fractured bones have resulted in skin being torn from deeper layers due to underlying medical issues that weakened their vulnerable skins.
No matter what the underlying cause is for degloving, it’s important for medical professionals to act quickly in order to prevent any further damage. Knowing how to recognize symptoms early on and understand how to appropriately treat them will ensure better outcomes for individuals who are affected. With this said, let’s look at what symptoms might present with degloving and what treatment options are available depending on the severity of the injury.
- Degloving is a medical term used to describe the removal or loss of skin, usually due to an injury.
- The most common cause of degloving injuries is high-speed motor vehicle accidents, but they can also be caused by crush injuries, gunshot wounds, and animal bites.
- According to a study published in 2020, degloving injuries account for approximately 1% of all traumatic injuries seen in trauma centers worldwide.
Symptoms of Degloving
The symptoms of degloving can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but typically include severe pain, deep lacerations, exposed bone and tissue, as well as potentially exposed blood vessels and/or nerve endings. If the degloving is particularly severe, there may also be damage to nearby muscle fibers or organs. It is generally accepted that victims of a degloving injury tend to experience immediate discomfort due to the sheer force involved in the incident. Severe cases may require emergency medical attention.
Despite the potential for intense pain and long-term discomfort, one study has suggested that many victims may not display symptoms immediately following the incident; instead, some will only begin to experience issues days or weeks after initial exposure. This may be due to the body’s natural protective measures attempting to mask damage during moments of intense trauma or it could be related to nerve damage from the initial incident that begins to take effect as time passes. Further research is needed in this field to better identify exactly why symptoms may manifest at varying timescales.
These concerning symptoms should always be taken seriously by those affected and evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. With appropriate diagnosis and care, a degloving injury victim can look forward to positive treatment outcomes and successful recovery. With that in mind, we now turn towards a discussion of available treatment options that can help lessen these symptoms and achieve positive results.
Treatment for Degloving
Treatment for degloving injuries is dependent on the severity and location of the injury. In many cases, lacerations can be treated without surgery with a thorough cleaning, bandaging, and continual observation to check for infection. When bone or tendon exposure is involved, surgical repair may be necessary. It’s always best to consult a medical doctor who specializes in reconstructive plastic surgery to help make the decision whether your injury requires surgery or not.
When surgery is required, it generally includes surgically closing the wound by bringing the skin edges together over a drain; flaps may also be created if there isn’t enough contiguous skin to close over the wound. Flaps are circular or triangular pieces of tissue that are cut from distant sites and then sutured over the wound. Skin grafts may also be used to cover especially deep wounds or when there isn’t enough skin at the original site. Once adequate coverage of the wound has been achieved and all flaps and grafts have been secured into place, reconstruction usually isn’t necessary; however, if issues do arise secondary to deformity or scarring, reconstructive plastic surgery may still be beneficial to improve appearance.
As with any treatment plan, there are pros and cons to each option – conservative management vs. surgery – which must be weighed carefully against one another before making a final decision about treating degloving injuries. Ultimately, as long as appropriate steps are taken to protect from further trauma along with good aftercare consisting of adhesive bandages for dressing changes and antibiotics for any infections that may arise, patients should expect satisfactory outcomes in most cases regardless of their choice in treatment type.
Now that we’ve discussed the various treatment options available for degloving injuries, let’s turn our attention towards a more complex situation where surgery is necessary…
Surgery for Degloving
Surgery is often the treatment of choice when it comes to degloving injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, a range of operations can be used to restore lost skin, muscle, bone, and other tissue.
Reconstructive surgery typically involves replacing any missing tissue with grafts from elsewhere in the body or artificial materials. In some cases, underlying structures such as blood vessels and nerves may need to be reattached as well. Generally, reconstructive plastic surgery focuses on restoring the appearance of the area affected by the degloving injury.
Surgical amputation may be necessary in some extreme cases. This involves removing all damaged tissue and leaving behind only healthy tissue for subsequent reconstruction. Amputation procedures are not always successful and depend upon the skill of the surgeon and condition of the remaining tissues.
The advantages of surgery include reduced pain, quicker healing time, reduced risk of infection, improved cosmetic results, and greater functionality. Surgery is not without its risks however: scarring, nerve damage, recurrence, and possibly even death due to complications are all possible outcomes. Ultimately, your doctor will weigh up the risks and benefits associated with any proposed surgery and make a recommendation accordingly.
Given that any surgical procedure carries potential risks, patients must carefully consider their options before making a decision about surgery for degloving injuries. Having discussed the potential treatments for degloving injuries and weighed up the potential benefits versus risks, it’s now time to consider what recovery from surgically treated degloving injuries might look like.
Most Important Highlights
Surgery is often the treatment of choice for degloving injuries and may involve reconstructive, plastic surgery to restore lost skin, muscle, bone, and other tissue. This could also include surgical amputation in extreme cases, with potential advantages of reduced pain, quicker healing time, etc. However any surgical procedure carries risks such as scarring or nerve damage, which must be weighed before any decision is made. After discussing potential treatments and their risks with a doctor, patients can consider what recovery from surgically treated degloving injuries may look like.
Recovery from Degloving
Recovery from de-gloving is a difficult process and the length of recovery largely depends on the severity of the injury. A difficult decision for patients is whether to pursue surgery. Although some operations can be successful and effective, there can still be long healing periods and risks of infection. There are also cases where doctors advise against surgery because it is not deemed necessary for full recovery. The decision should ultimately be made in conversation with a licensed medical professional based off of the particular circumstances at hand.
Regardless of whether or not surgery is chosen, physical therapy is a cornerstone in the recovery process, especially when there has been nerve damage. Patients go through physical therapy to rehabilitate their muscles and joints as well as to regain motion and strength of the area that was injured. Depending on the individual’s health status before and after the injury, there can be extensive periods of rehabilitation which can take several weeks to several months to complete.
The accepted standard medically is that most people should make a full recovery, although this does not mean that some residual effects cannot remain post-injury/surgery. Taking recommended precautions both before and after surgery as advised by your doctor or surgeon goes a long way in ensuring an optimal recovery from de-gloving injuries. With successful treatment and care from medical professionals, hopefully long term effects of de-gloving will be minimal coming down the line; this section will discuss those potential long term consequences in greater detail next.
Long Term Effects of Degloving
The long-term effects of degloving vary greatly, depending on the severity of the injury and whether any other underlying injuries were sustained in the accident. While there are cases where individuals have made a full recovery with no lasting damage, there are also cases where individuals have experienced permanent changes to their physical and mental state due to degloving.
In terms of physical effects, those who have experienced a degloving injury may be left permanently disfigured or physically handicapped. The exposed muscle and tissue can be particularly vulnerable to infection and may require multiple surgeries over several years to repair. Additionally, nerve damage may result in persistent numbness, tingling, pain, or loss of sensation in the affected area.
The psychological effects of degloving can also be profound. Survivors often must come to terms with permanent changes to their body image, which can lead to depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and difficulty adjusting to their new normal. In some cases, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop from such a traumatic experience. This is especially common when another person is at fault for the accident that resulted in the deg loving injury. Insecurity and feelings of helplessness can set in as survivors struggle to regain control over their lives by adapting to their changed circumstances.
Ultimately, it is difficult to accurately predict the precise long-term implications of experiencing a degloving injury until one has fully recovered. For this reason, it is important to seek professional medical guidance throughout recovery and continue such follow up even after discharge from treatment centers or hospitalizations. Rehabilitation focus should shift towards rehabilitation activities aimed at restoring general functioning while monitoring symptoms related to infection risk and prevention as well as addressing psychosocial factors that may arise secondary to the injury experience.
Injured? Contact GJEL
If you or a loved one has suffered a degloving injury, don’t wait to get the help you need. Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys now at 866-254-5579 for a free consultation with our experienced legal team. We’re here to fight for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today and let us help you on the road to recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers
What are the long-term effects of degloving?
The long-term effects of degloving depend on the severity and the areas of the body affected. In most cases, degloving can result in severe tissue damage, infection, permanent scarring, and nerve damage. In extreme cases where a limb is involved, limb amputations may be necessary. Degloving can also put the patient at increased risk for developing conditions such as diabetes due to tissue damage and infections. In addition, degloving can lead to psychological trauma due to physical and emotional pain. It is important to monitor anyoene who has suffered from a degloving injury closely for these long-term effects.
Are there any preventative measures for degloving?
Yes, there are preventative measures for degloving. First, it is important to be mindful of the environment and the potential risks associated with it. One should always wear protective gear when doing activities that could put them at risk of degloving. Additionally, cutting tools should be handled with care to avoid direct contact with skin or deeper tissue as any superficial cuts can increase the risk of degloving. Finally, one should be aware of their own limits and physical capabilities to safely undertake any activity which may involve higher-than-normal chances of degloving.
How is degloving typically treated?
Degloving typically involves reconstructive surgery. A plastic surgeon or trauma surgeon will carefully remove the damaged tissue and reposition any bone fragments. Depending on the extent of the degloving injury, a skin graft may be required to replace the missing skin and help restore function and appearance to the affected area. Medication is also often required to control swelling, relieve pain, and promote healing. Physical therapy can help with restoring strength and range of motion in the injured area. In some cases, an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals may be needed in order to ensure that all aspects of the treatment are coordinated for optimal outcomes.
What are the medical implications of degloving?
The medical implications of degloving can be far-reaching and serious. In cases of complete degloving, the individual may have lost portions of skin and muscle as well, leaving them vulnerable to infection and potential amputation of the affected area. There is also risk of shock due to severe blood loss, and if not treated quickly it could lead to sepsis or organ failure. In addition to these risks, there is potential for damage to nerves and tendons – if they are exposed, they may be permanently damaged or need surgical intervention. Lastly, if the underlying bone is exposed it may need reconstruction or replacement with prosthetics. As a result, prompt medical attention is integral in order to prevent disastrous outcomes associated with degloving injuries.
How does degloving occur?
Degloving is a painful and traumatic injury that can occur when a person’s skin and underlying tissue are torn away from the underlying muscles, tendons, and bones. This usually happens as a result of an intense force or pressure, such as a severe burn or blunt trauma like a motor vehicle accident or falling onto something sharp. In some cases, it can also be caused by animal bites, insect stings, and caustic chemicals.
Because degloving requires such an intense injury, it is often accompanied by other serious injuries, such as fractures and nerve damage. The force that caused the injury will determine the severity of the degloving and can involve anything from ripping skin off to partial amputation of skin. The area affected by this type of injury varies depending on the location where the trauma occurred but typically includes the face, hands, feet, arms, legs, back, abdomen or groin area.
The treatment for degloving injuries depends upon the seriousness of the trauma and usually involves urgent medical attention in order to reattach the skin or graft new skin in its place to reduce further damage and infection risk. Recovery time can take many months depending on the severity of the injury, but with proper care and rehabilitation it is possible for someone to make a full recovery.