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Nothing Is Funny About Ring Avulsion

Wedding ring
 It sounds like the start of a joke: "Why don't hand surgeons wear wedding rings?"

As comedian Jimmy Fallon found out, the answer is anything but funny. Late last month Fallon slipped on a rug in his home and suffered an injury known as a ring avulsion (note to the squeamish: Do NOT Google it).

"The ring ends up pulling the skin off," says Douglas Hutchinson, MD, a hand and microvascular surgeon with University of Utah Health. "Then it pulls the arteries, tendons and bones. It's not a clean cut at all, which makes it very difficult to fix. "

The majority of people who suffer a ring avulsion end up losing their fingers.

"We fix some, we cut many off," says Hutchinson. "It's very difficult to reconstruct."

In Fallon's case, doctors were able to save the finger by using a vein taken from his foot.

"That was likely done because the injury crushed a large area of the veins and arteries in the finger," says Hutchinson. "He will probably still have an issue with his finger."

Hutchinson says he has treated ring avulsion before, though none of his patients have suffered the injury falling on a rug and hitting a counter like Fallon did.

"Jumping over a fence is often the big mistake," he says. "Dunking a basketball is also a common way to end up with a ring avulsion."

There is one surefire way to avoid this type of injury: avoiding rings. "Many hand surgeons don't wear theirs because they have seen this enough," says Hutchinson.

If you want to protect your fingers while still displaying your marital status, Hutchinson suggests making a slight adjustment to your jewelry: "What one should do if one likes to wear their wedding ring is get it pre-cut so it breaks away before it injures your finger." After all, a serious finger injury is no laughing matter.