While they aren’t ideal for everyone, a full face CPAP mask design is perfect for plenty of users. The full face design is larger than nasal masks or nasal pillow constructions, adding a dimension of stability that isn’t present on other masks. Some people don’t like the added weight but there are enough advantages to the full face design to get plenty of patients excited about these types of masks. Let’s dive a little deeper into some of their advantages.
Perfect for facial hair
CPAP therapy patients with facial hair are often frustrated by their CPAP mask. Oftentimes, the hair prevents silicone and gel from gripping to the face, creating leaks and making it difficult for patients to get proper therapy. Nasal and nasal pillow masks don’t have the reach or the fortitude to clamp down on mustaches – even if they could, it probably wouldn’t be comfortable – and are essentially incompatible with large mustaches.
Full face masks, on the other hand, are ideal for patients who sport a mustache or a beard. The full face mask cushion is designed to seal against the nasal bridge and to wrap around the chin: you will still need to shave your neck and the underside of your chin to get a quality seal, but you won’t have to cut your mustache or your beard.
First, a word of caution: not every CPAP user breathes through their mouth. While many patients think they need a full face CPAP mask because they’ve spent most of their sleeping life respirating through their mouth, this isn’t true. People with sleep apnea are unable to breathe through their nose at night, which makes everyone think that they need a full face mask when it comes time to buy equipment.
For most people though, the inflow of air from the CPAP machine is enough to allow them to breathe through their nose. Even patients who have breathed through their mouth for their entire adult lives have been shown to adapt to a nasal or nasal pillow mask on their first night of therapy. For many, this is ideal, as the nasal masks are smaller and have higher rates of compliance than other masks.
Of course, not everyone is so lucky. Some people can’t breathe through their nose even with CPAP therapy. For those patients, the full face mask is the only possible option. The full face seals off both the nose and the mouth, allowing mouth breathers a quality seal that lets them breathe with ease throughout the night.
Reason for Caution
While there are a number of benefits that come with the full face mask, you’ll have to be very diligent regarding the quality of your seal. Because the mask is bigger than other designs – and because it contours around several different bones in your face – the full face can become dislodged fairly easily. Many patients who use a full face benefit from using a chinstrap that helps to keep the mask in place (and also prevents new users from subconsciously removing their mask in the middle of the night) while others learn to be careful about how they toss and turn.
Ultimately, the full face design isn’t right for every patient. But if you have a mustache or can’t breathe through your nose, it might be perfect for your therapy.