A degloving injury does not happen often. But when it does, it can have catastrophic consequences. These injuries can cause permanent disfigurement and nerve damage. They may even require amputation.
As a result, you might have a permanent disability after a degloving injury. You might also develop complications that increase the cost of your medical treatment and prevent you from working.
What Is a Degloving Injury?
A degloving injury occurs when your flesh gets scraped, torn, or sliced from your body. The tissue may remain attached to your body as a flap, or it may get torn away completely.
Degloving injuries can happen externally or internally.
An external degloving injury affects your skin, connective tissue, and soft tissue. An external degloving injury looks like your skin and soft tissue were peeled from your skeleton the way you would remove a glove from your hand.
Despite the name, these injuries can happen anywhere on your body. A common degloving injury happens when you hit or cut your head. Your injury can tear a flap of your scalp away from your skull.
An internal degloving injury only affects your connective and soft tissues. These injuries do not produce a surface wound. Instead, they cause the flesh to separate internally, producing a void that fills with fluid. This void could form between muscle and bone, or the tear could appear between a muscle and the connective tissue holding it to the skin.
Internal degloving injuries can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors may mistakenly blame a deep bruise for your symptoms. But an internal degloving injury can cause tissue death without proper treatment.
How Does a Degloving Injury Happen?
Degloving injuries can happen in a few ways, including the following:
Internal degloving injuries result from shear forces. These forces operate parallel to the body. You experience shear forces in an accident when you fall and slide.
Two common causes of internal degloving injuries include slip and fall accidents and pedestrian accidents. In both cases, you tend to fall onto your hip and buttocks and slide. The shear forces pull on the skin, connective tissue, and muscle. If they separate, you have an internal degloving injury.
Traffic accidents can cause an external degloving injury when immense forces rip the flesh from your body. A bicycle accident can produce a degloving injury when your flesh gets caught on your bicycle when you get hit by a car.
In a motorcycle accident, you can suffer a degloving injury when you hit the ground. When the loose skin of your knee or elbow drags across the pavement, the rough surface can peel the skin and connective tissue away.
Car accidents involve large amounts of energy that can shatter glass and mangle metal. The resulting sharp edges can produce a degloving injury. You could suffer a scalp degloving in a rollover accident when a shattered side window scrapes the flesh from your skull.
Workplace accidents can cause degloving injuries when workers use sharp tools like knives and saws. Also, building materials like metal and glass can have sharp edges. And high-speed machinery can grab and tear the flesh from your body.
What Are the Effects of a Degloving Injury?
Doctors will often drain the void created by an internal degloving injury. They may even perform surgery to close the void. In many cases, these injuries will heal with treatment.
Without treatment, the fluid pressure in the void can reduce blood flow to the area. Cells can die without blood circulation, leading to gangrene.
External degloving injuries produce a wider range of effects. Depending on the location and the severity, doctors may be able to reattach the flap of tissue.
Some factors that determine whether reattachment will succeed include:
- The time elapsed since the injury
- Contamination of the wound
- Condition of the flap
Generally, tissue can live anywhere from six to 12 hours after detachment. A longer detachment means a lower likelihood of success.
Doctors will not reattach flaps contaminated with chemicals or microorganisms. If your degloving injury happened in a factory accident involving a greasy, dirty machine, a doctor might not be able to reattach the stripped flesh.
If your flesh gets mangled in your accident, you might not have the nerve endings and blood vessels to keep the flap alive after surgery. For example, dog bites are a common cause of degloving injuries. If the dog mangles your flesh after stripping it from your body, it may be impossible to reattach.
What Complications Can Result from Degloving Injuries?
Abrasions only affect the skin. As a result, they are minor scrape injuries that will heal completely in most cases.
Degloving injuries affect the connective tissues and muscles. These are severe scrape injuries that can lead to many complications, including these:
Microorganisms cause an infection when they get into your body. The massive wound produced by a degloving injury can get infected.
Infections can make you sick as the microorganisms multiply inside your body. As your body fights the infection, you could potentially develop sepsis.
Nerves run throughout the muscles and connective tissues. These nerves pick up touch sensations through nerve endings in the skin. They control your muscles and even the sweat glands in your skin.
When soft tissue gets ripped from your body, the nerves can get stretched or torn.
As a result, you might experience:
- Nerve pain
- Loss of dexterity
Sometimes doctors can graft damaged nerves. But with large degloving injuries, doctors usually cannot repair all the nerves, and you will suffer at least some permanent nerve damage.
Flesh dies if it does not receive a regular supply of oxygen from the blood. When your soft tissue gets stripped from your body in a degloving injury, it can die from oxygen deprivation.
When doctors cannot restore blood circulation, they will recommend amputation. Sometimes, this procedure will only remove the flap of flesh, but other times, the amputation will take additional tissue.
How Do You Get Compensation for a Degloving Injury?
You can get compensation for a degloving injury if you prove that the person who caused your injury failed to exercise reasonable care. To discuss your accident and the compensation you can seek for your degloving injury, contact Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers at (305) 937-0191 for a free consultation.