Sacrificial Body Part

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Chapped Lips in “The Revenant”


Hollywood phenomenon Leonardo DiCaprio turns in another powerful performance as a betrayed frontiersman in “The Revenant.”  Here he is grinning over his Golden Globe win. His turn has resulted in his 6th Academy Award nomination, and his return to the ceremony will likely result in his first Oscar.  Tinseltown loves a transformative portrayal, but a specific bit of his anatomy deserves outsize credit, suffering for his art.  In the movie, Leo’s lips are chapped within an itch of their lickable life.


The medical term for severely chapped and inflamed lips is chelitis.  In the film, this occurs because of exposure to the elements.  Extreme cold, dry air and ultraviolet radiation without lip balms or sunscreen make Leo’s kisser look as dry as a teetotaler’s liquor cabinet. His temporary role as a bear snack certainly didn’t help.


 There can be other causes for chelitis.  Bacteria and yeast can cause similar red scaly rashes. Cutaneous creams to clear these critters can correct the crusting.  Chronic ultraviolet radiation causes precancerous changes that may require liquid nitrogen treatments. Certain drug reactions can severely affect the orifice, sometimes leading to hospitalization.

Once the inciting factors are corrected, we find petroleum-based balms such as Vaseline or Aquaphor maintain a healthy lip better than wax-based chapsticks.

Fortunately for Leo, lips tend to recover quickly.  His leading man labia are back for more movie “Action!”

Runner Up, Sacrificial Body Part:

Charlize Theron’s arm in “Mad Max: Fury Road”


Talk about sacrifice!  In the latest Mad Max installment, Theron had part of her arm removed for the role. This gives us a chance to discuss phantom limb syndrome.

What’s that?  It was just cgi?  They can do that?  To quote SNL’s Emily Litella, “Never mind.”

© 1996-2016 Vail Reese M.D.

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