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How CPAP Masks Have Changed Over the Years

January 21, 2022


CPAP masks have always been one of the most recognizable features of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. However, you may be surprised to learn that CPAP technology has only been available for about 40 years.

CPAP masks have changed dramatically during the past few decades, becoming more technologically advanced and more effective. In this post, we’ll take a look at the first CPAP masks, how these masks changed over time and some of the newest mask options currently on the market.

The First CPAP Masks

Dr. Colin E. Sullivan first introduced CPAP therapy
Dr. Colin E. Sullivan
Source: Washington State Sleep Society

When Dr. Colin E. Sullivan first introduced CPAP therapy, masks were customized to fit a patient’s face using a plaster mold. The mold would then be turned into a fiberglass mask.

Mask manufacturers placed tiny air inlets in the fiberglass and then placed tubes through the holes. Once the custom mask was assembled, it would then be attached with a silicone adhesive to prevent it from slipping off in the middle of the night.

While this design may seem archaic compared to modern CPAP masks, the treatment had extraordinary results and relieved the suffering of many sleep apnea patients. There’s no denying the original CPAP masks weren’t very comfortable or particularly convenient – but they did work. Fortunately, masks have evolved tremendously over the years.

Modern Sleep Apnea Masks

Masks today are, of course, smaller than the original and come in various sizes, materials, shapes, and colors. However, modern masks are also made of more lightweight, flexible material, making them more comfortable to sleep in and less prone to air leakage. Additionally, innovative mask cushions are now made of gel, foam, silicone, and even fabrics to ensure a comfortable fit. Ultimately, there are three major types of modern CPAP masks.

full face cpap mask
Full Face Mask

Full Face Masks fit over the nose and mouth but are much more lightweight and feel very different from the bulky, traditional masks used years ago.

Full face masks are a great option for patients with congestion or nasal obstruction that makes breathing through the nose


Nasal Masks are small, lightweight masks that fit over the nose. Nasal masks are great for patients who tend to move around a lot in their sleep. This type of mask is also recommended for patients whose doctor has prescribed a high air pressure setting on their CPAP machine.

Nasal Pillow Masks are typically very small and fit just under the nostrils. These masks are excellent for stomach and side sleepers, who often toss and turn at night and need a secure, yet unobtrusive fit. Nasal pillow masks are also a great choice for patients who feel claustrophobic in other CPAP masks or want a full field of vision to watch TV, read, or wear their glasses.

Advanced Homecare CPAP Masks

If you’re using CPAP therapy to manage your sleep apnea, it’s essential to find a mask that fits well and feels comfortable to wear. There are multiple CPAP masks available today to fit all sizes and needs. At Advanced Homecare, we pride ourselves on offering the most advanced CPAP supplies to help you get your best night’s sleep. Contact us today to learn more.

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