Degloving Injury

Degloving Injury

A degloving injury may be the most catastrophic injury you have never heard of. Degloving happens when the soft tissue separates from the connective tissue or bones underneath it. In the worst degloving injuries, the flesh peels away from your body as if you removed a glove, hence the name.

Degloving injuries can have many complications that can leave you disabled and disfigured. It is important to understand these potential complications and how you can receive compensation for the suffering and losses they cause.

What Is the Structure of Your Skin and Soft Tissues?

What Is the Structure of Your Skin and Soft Tissues?

Your body has multiple layers, with each layer providing a different structure and function. Your skin forms a water-tight barrier to keep dirt and microorganisms out while keeping water in. It protects your body from infection, contamination, and dehydration.

The skin itself even has multiple layers. The epidermis provides the top layer of the skin, while the dermis sits below it and houses the nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles. The hypodermis attaches to the fat layer and connective tissue that holds the skin to your muscles.

The muscles and tendons sit below the skin. Muscles move your body and give it strength. Tendons anchor the muscles to your skeleton.

Nerves and blood vessels run throughout the muscles and skin. Sensory nerves run to the skin, where they sense pressure, temperature, and other aspects of touch. Motor nerves run to the muscles and skin to control movement, sweating, and blood flow.

All cells, including muscle and skin cells, require oxygen for cell metabolism. The blood circulated through the blood vessels carries oxygen and nutrients to these cells.

What Is a Degloving Injury?

Degloving injuries happen when your skin and soft tissues separate from the underlying tissues. As a result, you may experience bleeding, nerve damage, and tissue necrosis.

Degloving injuries occur in two ways:

External Degloving Injuries

External degloving injuries happen when the skin and soft tissue peels away from the connective tissues and bones. The injury produces a flap of flesh containing the skin and soft tissues. This flap may remain attached to the body, or it may peel off the body completely.

Sometimes, doctors can replace the degloved flesh and restore circulation to it. If they perform this operation successfully, you may regain the use of the soft tissues.

Internal Degloving Injuries

Internal degloving injuries happen when the soft tissue tears internally without causing an open wound in the skin. Instead, the soft tissue separates from the bone or tears, leaving a void inside your body. Blood can fill this void, causing pain and swelling.

In some cases, the tear will heal, and you might never realize you suffered an internal degloving injury. But in severe cases, the flesh served by the torn blood vessels can die from a lack of circulation.

How Does a Degloving Injury Happen?

Degloving injuries usually result from a sliding or scraping action. For example, a common degloving injury happens when someone strikes their head on a sharp edge, like the corner of a table, during a trip or a slip and fall accident. The sharp edge cuts into the scalp, and the fall causes the scalp to peel away from the skull.

Degloving injuries can also happen due to slicing and scraping. Even though your car’s windows are made from safety glass, they can still shatter under the force of an impact. You can suffer a degloving injury if your body part goes through a window during a car accident, and the glass scrapes the flesh from your body.

Crushing injuries can also cause degloving. A machine with moving parts can tear the flesh, creating a loose flap. If you have ever slammed a door on your hand, you may have experienced a similar injury. But with a machine in operation, you might not stop before it completely slices through the skin and underlying soft tissue.

What Complications Can Result from Degloving Injuries?

Degloving injuries can lead to many complications, such as:


Degloving injuries can bleed severely if you sever a major artery. For example, a degloving injury to the arm can sever the brachial artery. You might lose consciousness after just a couple of minutes.

Nerve Damage

Nerves carry the electrical signals between your brain and body. Nerves cannot transmit when they get cut. And nerves do not regrow.

Sometimes, doctors can graft nerves by bridging the gap across a severed nerve using nerve tissue harvested from elsewhere in your body or a cadaver. Without a successful graft, you may have no movement or sensation at the injury site.


Bacteria that enter your body through an open wound can cause infections. The bacteria multiply, releasing waste products into your bloodstream. They may even release toxins to kill body cells that compete with them for resources.

Your body will cause fever and swelling to trap and kill the bacteria. This battle between your body and the invading bacteria can make you sick.


Doctors may need to amputate the injured area. If doctors cannot restore blood circulation to the degloved flap, it will die and develop gangrene. Instead of risking your life by reattaching it, doctors may remove it.

The likelihood of amputation also increases if the flap of flesh was:

  • Contaminated with dirt or chemicals
  • Detached for more than a few hours
  • Severed from an area with tiny blood vessels and nerves, like a toe

If doctors need to amputate, you might suffer additional complications, including phantom pain.

How Can You Get Compensation for a Degloving Injury? 

If your degloving injury happened at work or resulted from someone else’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation. 

Workers’ compensation covers work-related degloving injuries. Workers’ comp benefits pay for your medical treatment and part of your lost wages.

Similarly, if someone’s negligence caused your degloving injury, you can pursue an injury claim for compensation. Thus, if your scalp was degloved in a car accident where your head hit the side window, you can potentially seek compensation from the at-fault driver. 

The compensation you receive can cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses.

A degloving injury can rob you of the use of your limb and leave you scarred and disfigured. To discuss the compensation you can seek for these and other effects of a degloving injury in Gainesville, FL, contact the personal injury lawyers call (877) 255-3652 at Allen Law Firm, P.A. for a free consultation today.