The fates have not been kind to eternal Mean Girl and occasional Grand Theft Auto star Lindsay Lohan, but the violent loss of her ring finger on Sunday is a sign her luck is changing. The grisly boating accident that amputated her hand could not have happened at a better moment: In 2016, the range of options for healing the digit-less is unprecedented. What a time to be alive, indeed!
Two options were available for Lohan, who was boating off the Turkish coast when her finger was ripped off — not “chopped” or “severed” off, she tweeted — during an entanglement with the ship’s anchor. If her dismembered half-finger was recovered in time, it could have been attached surgically; if it wound up as fish food, she could easily have had a 3D-printed, customized semi-digit installed in its place. Really, there’s no way this could have ended badly.
Lohan’s prescient friends allowed her to take advantage of the former option. According to the story she recounted on Snapchat, they discovered her missing digit on the deck of the boat, and a plastic surgeon quickly reattached it in a local emergency room. It isn’t clear how Lohan’s friends attended to her and her finger on their way back to shore, but the success of the reattachment, which she announced online in graphic detail, suggests they had top-notch first-aid skills.
When amputation happens, severed digits should be kept near but not directly on ice, which could damage the tissue; the injured hand, similarly, should be kept moist but not submerged in water. Most importantly, reattachment has to happen before 12 hours pass; otherwise, it might be too late to salvage it.
Once in the ER, reattachment is now considered a pretty standard procedure: The bones in the two halves of the finger are first connected via pins, the enclosing tendons are repaired, and the arteries, veins, and nerves are reattached last, restoring blood flow and sensation to the fingertip.
Like all medical procedures, reattachment isn’t foolproof, and her reattached digit could wither and die if, say, her platelets run low, vein grafts were used in surgery, or if she smokes after her operation, as a 2008 paper in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery notes.
If that does happen, then LiLo can always turn to the world of prosthetics, whether artificial or biological. Companies like Naked Prosthetics specialize in fully functioning, 3D-printed artificial fingers for amputees, and as biologists continue to discover how to create living, functioning organs from miniature hearts to breasts, LiLo can rest assured that a fingerless fate will never be written in her stars.