Dr. Bardia Amirlak, a plastic surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said the force of an avulsion, or degloving, injury is so powerful the skin is peeled away, damaging blood vessels, muscles and tendons.
"When someone falls, they try to grab something and the ring gets stuck, and peels everything off," Amirlak said in a statement. "It's a devastating injury."
Children suffer such injuries when, for example, their fingers get trapped between the metal rails of amusement park rides.
Adults have been injured stepping out of buses, working with drill presses and holding reins or tow ropes. The culprit is often a wedding ring.
Sometimes an artery bypass using the patient's own veins is needed. Because the nerves and vessels are forcibly detached, these injuries often are more difficult to fix than an amputation, Amirlak said.
"Avulsion injuries can be avoided by removing rings prior to taking part in activities like gardening, handling heavy objects, participating in sports, or doing construction," Amirlak said. "The thumb, index, and middle fingers are more important for hand function, so wearing rings on these fingers should be avoided at all times."