Degloving Injury

A degloving injury can have catastrophic effects, including nerve damage, infection, and even amputation. Despite their serious effects, very few people have heard of these injuries.

Degloving injuries happen when the flesh gets torn from your body. The name comes from the fact that some degloving injuries look like your skin and soft tissues were peeled from your body as if you removed a glove.

If you or a loved one has suffered this serious injury, it is critical to understand its effects and how you can seek compensation for it.

The Musculoskeletal System

Your musculoskeletal system includes bones and soft tissues. Your bones provide the scaffolding that holds your body up and gives it structure. The soft tissues hold your skeleton together and give your body strength and motion.

Some of the soft tissues in your body include:

  • Muscles and tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Cartilage

Blood vessels run through your bones and soft tissues. They carry oxygen-rich blood to your cells so they can build proteins and produce energy. Without blood flow, your cells die.

Nerves control your muscles to move your body. The nerves also carry sensory signals from your skin to your brain. When nerves get severed, these signals get cut off, leading to paralysis and numbness.

A layer of fat sits on top of your soft tissues to insulate them. And connective tissues secure the soft tissues to the skin.

The skin sits on top of the fat. The skin serves many purposes, including:

  • Protecting you from radiation, microbes, chemicals, and dirt
  • Retaining water inside your body
  • Regulating your body temperature

When your skin gets breached, you lose this protective layer and risk dehydration and infection.

How Degloving Injuries Happen

Degloving injuries can happen internally or externally. Internal degloving injuries happen when your soft tissues separate and form an internal void. This void fills with fluid. But since there is no open wound, these internal degloving injuries can get misdiagnosed as deep bruises.

Internal degloving injuries often result from slip and fall accidents where the accident victim falls onto their hip or buttocks. When your body impacts and slides, you can tear your soft tissues or even separate them from the bone. Doctors may need to drain the resulting fluid-filled void to avoid infection.

You can visualize an external degloving injury as an abrasion that goes much deeper than the skin. An abrasion happens when your skin gets scraped. A degloving injury happens when the skin and soft tissues get peeled from your body. A degloving injury can even reach all the way to the bone.

External degloving injuries have a few causes, including:

Sharp Objects

A laceration, by itself, will probably not cause a degloving injury. Instead, you need a laceration combined with a motion to peel the flesh from your body.

For example, suppose your head impacts your windshield or side window during a car accident. The broken glass can slice your scalp, then peel it away from your skull.

Working Machinery

The sheer force of a machine could catch your flesh and tear it from your body. Thus, a forklift or excavator could deglove the flesh from your arm in a construction accident.

Dog Bites

Dog attacks can result in a degloving injury. When dogs bite, they shake and twist their head to tear the flesh. A dog bite can strip the flesh from your finger, face, or other body parts.

Complications from Degloving Injuries

Degloving injuries can have serious effects. Depending on the depth of the injury and the condition of the torn flesh, doctors might reattach the flap of lost flesh. 

But doctors might not attempt reattachment if the degloved flesh was:

  • Contaminated with chemicals or dirt
  • Mangled
  • Burned
  • Left without circulation for too long

Regardless of whether they can reattach the flap, you might suffer serious complications, including:


Microorganisms cause infections when they invade your body. The large open wound often produced by degloving injuries gives bacteria the opening to cause an infection.

As the germs multiply, your body triggers swelling and fever. The swelling is meant to trap the bacteria, and the fever is meant to kill them. When this reaction gets out of hand, you can suffer septic shock.


Scars happen when the body regrows cells. Replacement cells almost always grow tougher and less pliable than the original cells.

Since degloving injuries usually affect large areas of skin, you may need a skin graft to protect the injury. And if doctors are able to reattach the flap, you will have a long suture line. Together, you may have massive scarring after you recover from your injury.

Nerve Damage

The body cannot repair severed nerves. A degloving injury that reaches the nerves running through the muscles and lower layer of skin can cause permanent nerve damage.


A deep degloving injury can damage the blood vessels. If doctors cannot repair the blood vessels and restore circulation, the tissue below the injury can die. Doctors may choose to amputate instead of risking tissue death if the degloving injury has caused severe vascular damage.

Getting Compensation for a Degloving Injury

You can pursue compensation when someone else’s actions cause your degloving injury. You will need to prove the other party acted negligently in causing your injuries. This means the other person failed to exercise reasonable care and as a result, caused your accident.

When you prove negligence, you can seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include your medical costs and lost income. Since degloving injuries often require reconstructive surgery or even amputation, you could face massive medical expenses.

Non-economic losses include all the ways your quality of life suffered due to your injury. Pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability all constitute non-economic losses.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer for Help

A degloving injury could leave you with scars and permanent injuries. If someone’s negligence caused your degloving injury, a qualified personal injury attorney can help you secure the compensation you deserve. 

With over 25 years of combined experience, the dedicated team at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys has recovered millions in compensation for a wide range of personal injuries. 

To discuss the compensation you can seek for the effects of a degloving injury in St. Petersburg, Florida, contact the Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys. Give us a call at (727) 933-0015.