Each year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are rushed to emergency rooms with serious and even life-threatening injuries, all caused by a common offender: kitchen knives. Here in the United States it is estimated that around 500,000 people a year are treated for accidental hand lacerations due to kitchen knives, accounting for a staggering 42 percent of all hand injuries treated in the ER. For many of those patients, the ER isn’t their last stop. Many of those patients will end up at their local plastic surgeon’s office attempting to repair the permanent scars and tendon damage left behind from their injury.
Since the mid-1990’s, one of the most common foods to send patients to the hospital with hand injuries is the bagel. In fact, bagel related injuries are so common, they earned their own acronym, BRI’s. However, a new food may be poised to steal the laceration injury throne from the bagel: the avocado.
Avocados may seem innocent enough, with their semi-soft skin and mushy interior, but as they increase in popularity in kitchens around the world, avocado-related mishaps are sending people (including Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep) to emergency rooms and plastic surgeons in record numbers. Why? Because many people don’t know the proper way to peel an avocado. Much like bagels, the rounded shape and softness of the fruit makes it tricky to cut. But it doesn’t have to be. As the temperatures warm and avocado’s start appearing in produce sections around the world, try these cutting pointers to help keep yourself out of the ER when preparing an avocado:Always cut any item (even avocados!) on a flat surfaceAlways use a properly sharpened knife. This seems counterintuitive in avoiding cuts, but the sharper the knife, the less of a struggle it will be to use, and the lower the risk of injuring yourself.First, cut the avocado in half, lengthwise. Holding it flat on the cutting board, puncture the fruit with a sharp knife, cut until you feel the pit at the center, sliding the knife around the entire fruit, rotating it without lifting it off the cutting board.Split the avocado in two, and remove the pit with a spoon.Scrape out the insides with a spoon by sliding the spoon between the avocado slice and the peel. If you are chopping the avocado, cut gently without damaging the peel, and then use the spoon to remove the slices.
So, what can you do if you’ve already injured yourself? There are many ways a plastic surgeon can repair damage caused by kitchen knife injuries. Whether you simply want to hide an unsightly scar with scar revision surgery, or you need repair to damaged tendons, your plastic surgeon can help repair your hand and correct much of the damage caused by your kitchen accident.
Unfortunately, in the case of some tendon injuries, the damage may be permanent and can include loss of sensation, tendernes and inability to move or bend affected fingers, however your surgeon can evaluate the damage and determine if surgery is worth attempting.