Degloving Injuries: What They Are and Common Causes

Degloving Injuries

Degloving is a type of traumatic injury where a large portion of skin and tissue is detached from the underlying muscle or bone.

Such injuries can be extremely painful and often require extensive surgery to repair.

Even with surgery, the injured body part may never be the same again.

If you or a loved one have suffered a degloving injury and someone else is at fault, it is important to know your legal rights. VanDerGinst Law is here to help.

What is a Degloving Injury?

Degloving injuries occur when a large portion of skin and subcutaneous tissue is separated from the underlying connective tissue, muscle, or bone.

Blood vessels in the skin may be severed, interrupting the blood supply to the detached skin tissue, and nerves may be cut or damaged.

Because it takes a very serious accident to exert the type of force necessary to detach a significant amount of skin from the body, fractures in the underlying bone frequently accompany a degloving injury.

A degloving injury can occur anywhere on the body, but the most common locations are the body’s extremities, such as the arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Types of Degloving Injuries

Degloving injuries can occur in various ways. Some subtypes of degloving injuries include:

Open Type

An open type degloving injury occurs where a large portion of skin is physically separated from the body. This may take the form of an abrasion, in which a single patch of skin is detached from the underlying tissue and bone.

For instance, a motorcycle rider who is thrown from his bike in a highway crash might suffer the loss of a large strip of skin on his leg as he slides along the pavement at high speed.

An open-type degloving may also be circumferential, which means that the skin has been removed from a limb on all sides, much like removing a glove from the hand. This type of injury may occur, for instance, where a worker’s hand is accidentally pulled into some sort of industrial machinery like a conveyer belt or roller machine.

Another example of a circumferential degloving injury is where a person’s ring is caught on something that tears the ring—and the skin surrounding the person’s finger—away from them.

Closed Type

A closed type degloving injury, or Morel-Lavallee lesion, occurs where the top layers of skin remain intact but have been internally separated from the underlying connective tissue and bone.

In other words, the outer layer of skin may not be visibly broken, but it is no longer attached to the fascia beneath it. This occurs most often where the accident victim has suffered some sort of high-energy, blunt force trauma such as falling from a bicycle at high speed.

This is another reason to make sure to see a doctor immediately after any injury. If you had a closed-type injury, you may not know without seeing a doctor.

Degloving injuries are also categorized based on their depth. Shallower types may only remove a single layer of skin from the surface, but a serious degloving injury may remove all the skin and other tissue down to the bone.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Degloving Injuries

Most often, a degloving injury can be diagnosed by a doctor based on a simple physical examination of the affected area, because the detached skin is immediately apparent to the naked eye. However, diagnosing a closed-type degloving injury may require further testing, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, because the tissue separation lies beneath the skin and the only outward signs may be bruising and swelling.

Depending on the size and severity of the wound, treatment of a degloving injury may require surgery to repair. If the separated skin is still partially attached to the body like a flap, a surgeon may seek to replant the skin to its former position in the wound area. To do so, the surgeon may have to perform revascularization on the affected area in order to restore the blood supply to the injured top layer of skin.

If the separated portion of skin is missing or too damaged to replant, a surgeon may find it necessary to use skin grafts to cover and close the wound. A skin graft involves taking a portion of the outer layer of skin from one part of the body and transplanting it to a different part of the body. Another type of skin graft that may be used is a skin flap graft, where a flap of healthy skin is partly detached from the body in a manner that preserves its blood flow and used to cover a nearby injured area.

On the other hand, a less serious closed-type degloving injury may not require surgery. It may be treated, for instance, with drainage of the wound and compression to allow for healing and restoration of the blood supply to the top layer of skin.

In all cases, only a licensed medical doctor will be able to properly diagnose and treat your injury.

Legal Liability for Degloving Injuries

To bring a successful lawsuit over a degloving injury, you need to prove that another individual or entity (like a company) was responsible for the injury. If someone else is to blame for your degloving injury, then you may be able to receive compensation.

At VanDerGinst Law, our clients have received compensation for a range of losses, including:

  • Medical care to treat the injury, including skin grafts, hospital stays, doctor visits, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, and mental health counseling.
  • Lost wages, when you cannot work because of your injury.
  • Pain and suffering, for the physical limitations imposed by the injury such as reduced movement or disfigurement.
  • Emotional distress, for the negative emotions caused by the injury such as fear for the future and loss of independence
  • Loss of consortium, for changes to your marriage caused by the injury such as loss of companionship or sexual intimacy.

All cases are different, and it is difficult to calculate how much you might receive.

How VanDerGinst Law Can Help

Serious injuries such as degloving devastate many of our client’s lives. If you or someone you love has suffered a degloving injury, then you might be entitled to compensation in a lawsuit or an insurance settlement.

The knowledgeable team at VanDerGinst Law has over 30 years of experience with personal injury cases to help you to bring a successful claim.

Contact our lawyers at 800-797-5391 or send us an online message to schedule your free consultation.

The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.