Here’s a story about an injury you didn’t even want to know was possible: Jimmy Fallon returned to the Tonight Show last night after getting hand surgery for a "ring avulsion" that required major surgery and a 10-day stay in a New York City hospital's Intensive Care Unit. As he told viewers last night, don’t Google ring avulsion—seriously.
Instead, let us give you the basics, sans images.
A ring avulsion can happen if you catch your ring on something forcefully enough (in Fallon’s case, it was the kitchen counter), causing the ring to pull the skin and soft tissue off of your finger. In some cases, a ring avulsion results in only mild contusions and bruising, but in severe cases it can cause total deglovement—meaning all the skin and soft tissue comes off kind of like a glove—and may require amputation.
Fallon explained that he was in his kitchen on June 26th when he tripped over a braided rug, “that my wife loves, and I can’t wait to burn it to the ground." He caught his fall on the aforementioned counter, and when he stood up, realized his ring finger was bent sideways.
“It completely looks fake, it looks like a cheap horror movie,” Fallon says he thought to himself at the time. Thinking it was badly broken, he got in a cab to the emergency room, where they told him it was a ring avulsion and sent him to another hospital for microsurgery.
“Apparently the odds aren’t great with these things, and they usually just cut your finger off. So this guy did surgery for six hours, under a microscope,” Fallon explained. “He had to take a vein out of my foot. It’s the craziest story—I didn’t know this was happening because I was knocked out at this point.”
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Ultimately, the comedian's surgeon was successful. "He did it, and he saved my finger,” Fallon said, holding up his bandaged hand.
But he is right that not everyone is as lucky: According to a 2014 study published in the journal Hand, researchers looked at the treatment outcomes for 33 patients who experienced ring injuries (avulsions as well as other less severe ring-related injuries), and found that nine of those people ultimately had to have their fingers amputated.
Fallon spent his week and change in the ICU watching countless hours of The Real Housewives of New York City and reading books about the meaning of life.
Though he's back at work now, it’ll take a long eight weeks for him to fully recover and regain feeling in the finger. He had nothing but praise for the medical professionals who helped him through the ordeal, giving a shout-out to "the nurses and the doctors at Bellevue Hospital," in New York City, adding, "Thank you so much for taking care of me. It's a tough, tough job. You guys are rock stars."
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Luckily, serious ring avulsions are relatively rare injuries (in case you were about to throw out every ring you own), according to a paper published in BMJ Case Reports. Still, there are ways to lower your risk even further. France’s Consumer Safety Commission put together an entire report on ring avulsions back in 2005; they recommend removing your rings in hazardous situations (i.e., using power tools, playing sports like soccer, or climbing on a stool to reach something).
Hand surgeons have suggested, among other things, having an incision made in your wedding ring to create a slight opening, so that it doesn't fully close around your finger. But as the French report authors conclude, that idea isn't likely to catch on: "The procedure irreversibly damages the piece and divests wedding bands of their symbolism."
However, it looks like Fallon is clearly on a mission to create some kind of solution, tweeting out:
So keep an eye out for Jimmy Fallon© Wedding Bands, debut TBD.