What is Degloved Face? Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

A degloved face is a rare but serious medical conditiohttps://bestbizz.org/what-is-degloved-face-causes-treatment/n where the skin becomes completely detached from the underlying facial tissue. A medical emergency requires immediate attention. This article will examine what a face degloved is, what causes it, how it is treated, and prevention tips.

What is a Degloved Face?

A face degloved occurs when the top layers of skin and soft tissue become completely torn off the underlying facial muscles, nerves, and vessels. This results in the skin peeling away and hanging loose; hence the term “degloved.”

In full facial degloving, the skin detaches from the forehead, eyelids, cheeks, nose, lips, and chin in one piece. More extensive injuries can deglove down past the neck. This exposes the facial nerves, muscles, and blood vessels beneath, normally protected by the skin.

A face degloved is rare, occurring in less than 0.5% of major facial traumas. But it is considered a dire medical emergency requiring prompt treatment.

Causes of Degloved Face Injuries

Some of the most common causes of face degloved include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents – Friction from road impact tears off facial skin. Seatbelts can also cause degloving.

  • Industrial/machining accidents – Facial skin catches in machinery.

  • Animal attacks – Animal bites, grab and rip off facial skin.

  • Physical assaults – Forcible blunt facial trauma tears off the skin.

  • Explosions – The blast force can deglove facial skin.

  • Falls – Forceful falls where the face impacts a surface at high speed.

  • Medical complications – Very rarely, facial degloving can result from trauma during surgery or intubation.

The common thread is sudden extreme force or trauma detaching the facial skin in one piece from the underlying tissue. This causes extensive, complex wounds exposing critical nerves, vessels, and muscles.

Treatment for Degloved Face Injuries

Treating a face degloved requires emergency surgery performed by specialized plastic and reconstructive surgeons. The goals are to:

  • Assess and repair damage to underlying structures like nerves, vessels, bones, and muscles.

  • Attempt to reattach and revascularize the degloved facial skin if possible.

  • Provide protective coverage of exposed areas using flaps if skin reattachment fails.

  • Manage pain, infection risk, and other complications like blood loss.

Depending on the damage, reattachment may not be feasible if the skin is too extensively separated or contaminated. In these cases, reconstructive techniques involving skin flaps and grafts are needed for coverage.

Patients usually require additional surgeries for bone reconstruction, grafts, scar revision, and rehabilitation. Treatment is long-term due to the complexity of restoring proper facial form and function.

Preventing Facial Degloving Injuries

While rare and unpredictable, some tips may help reduce the risk of suffering a traumatic face degloved:

  • Wear seatbelts properly when driving to avoid forceful facial impact.

  • Wear helmets and face shields when operating machinery, during sports, or when working in hazardous conditions.

  • Be vigilant around animals that may bite or scratch their face.

  • Avoid alcohol and safety risks that make traumatic falls more likely.

  • If undergoing surgery involving the face, discuss precautions with your doctor.

  • Never put the face in the direct line of forceful pressure, shearing, or loosening motions that could tear away the skin.


A degloved face is a nightmarish, life-altering injury, but thankfully very improbable for most people. Understanding the causes can help raise awareness of prevention. Advances in emergency and reconstructive surgery offer hope for restoring form and function if an accident does occur. As always, staying vigilant about safety and seeking immediate medical care remain the best defenses against lasting harm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What makes the facial skin detach so easily?

A. The face has a relatively fragile attachment between skin and muscle compared to other areas. The complex facial anatomy also makes it prone to multi-layer injury.

Q. Do nerve endings get damaged in a degloved face?

A. Yes, a face degloved usually inflicts severe damage to the facial nerve branches under the skin, which provide sensation and motion. This requires intricate nerve repair.

Q. Does a face degloved cause permanent disfigurement?

A. It depends on the damage. Many degloving victims can achieve reasonable aesthetic results over time with optimal surgical treatment. But some impairment may persist.

Q. How long does it take to recover from a facial degloving?

A. With multiple surgeries, recovery realistically takes at least 6-12 months. Complete rehabilitation of facial functions like blinking, smiling, and sensation can take several years.

Q. Can a face degloved be fatal?

A. It is potentially life-threatening, depending on the injury severity. The exposed airways and blood vessels are at risk. But with emergent expert care, survival rates are very high.

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