What is the Difference Between Nasal, Nasal Pillows and Full Face CPAP Masks?

One of the most obvious and important parts of the entire CPAP rigmarole is finding the right mask. In fact, finding a mask that is comfortable and has a good seal may make a huge difference in how likely you are to succeed with CPAP therapy. Here’s a short and sweet explanation of the different types of CPAP masks.

What is a nasal mask?

A nasal CPAP mask is triangular in shape and sits on the face around the nose. It’s held in place by head gear (stretchy straps that go around the nose). There are different sizes for different sizes and shapes of noses.

Who is a nasal mask best for?

  • Nose-breathers. Mouth breathers can use this mask with a chin strap (a stretchy strap that goes over your head and under your chin to keep your mouth closed at night).

Who shouldn’t use a nasal mask?

  • Mouth breathers. However, you can use this mask with a chin strap (a stretchy strap that goes over your head and under your chin to keep your mouth closed at night).
  • You have a lot of facial hair that prevents the mask from sealing with your skin.

Things to consider about a nasal pillows mask:

  • May cause irritation on the bridge of the nose becuase of the way the mask makes contact with your face and is strapped around your head (see illustration above).

What is a nasal pillows mask?

Nasal pillows are cushions that seal at the base of the nostril and are help in place with a stretchy strap that goes around the back of your head. This is the least invasive mask available.

Who is a nasal pillows mask best for?

  • Nose-breathers. 
  • Someone who is claustrophobic because there’s little contact with your face and no obstruction of your view.
  • Someone who likes to read or watch TV in bed before falling asleep.
  • Someone with lots of facial hair that with other mask types can prevent the mask from making a seal with your skin.
  • Active sleepers (may stay in place better while you’re tossing and turning)

Who shouldn’t use a nasal pillows mask?

  • If your CPAP pressure is very high, you may be really uncomfortable since a lot of air will be blowing through two relatively small holes.
  • Someone who suffers from nasal congestion or allergies that make it hard to breathe through your nose.
  • Mouth breathers (you can always try a chin strap)

Things to consider about a nasal pillows mask:

  • May cause nasal dryness or nosebleeds. 

What is a full-face mask?

A full face mask sits on the face and covers the entire mouth and nose. This is the mask most people envision when they first think of CPAP masks. While current designs are much smaller than the first masks, this type covers the largest area of the face of all mask types.

Who is a full-face mask best for?

  • Mouth breathers.
  • Someone who suffers from nasal congestion. In fact, some CPAP users will use a full-face mask only when they have a cold or seasonal allergies and use a nasal mask the rest of the year.
  • Someone with high pressure settings. This type of mask makes high pressures more tolerable.
  • Someone who is claustrophobic may prefer this mask since this mask only touches the outside of the face.
  • Some studies show that this mask is best for bilevel or BiPAP users because they are more prone to mouth leak (reference at the bottom of the post).

Things to consider about a full-face mask:

  • May have higher leak because of the larger surface area and this could cause dry eyes.
  • It’s hard to read or watch TV or wear glasses in bed with this mask on.
  • It’s almost impossible to sleep on your stomach with this mask.

Which type of mask costs more?

Cash patients will see a big difference in the prices of different masks depending on the style, the manufacturer and the provider.

If your insurance pays for your CPAP supplies (click here to find out if we’re contracted with your insurance to provide supplies), there are only two different mask types that insurance recognizes. Additionally, each mask has cushions that must be replaced more often that the mask to ensure optimal usage. The mask will come with one cushion (or set) and you will order the replacement cushions separately (learn about how often you should replace your supplies here).

  1. Nasal and nasal pillow masks: These are considered the same thing by insurance. The CPT code is A7034 for either mask and reimbursement for in-network providers ranges from $45-$125 per mask. The CPT code for the nasal mask replacement cushion is A7032 and for the nasal pillows mask is A7033. The reimbursement for the cushions ranges from $10-$35 each. Most insurances follow Medicare guidelines for replacing the mask once every three months and cushions twice per month although some insurance will only approve one extra cushion per month.
  1. Full-face masks: The CPT code for a full-face mask is A7030 and the reimbursement ranges from $70-$180. The CPT code for the full-face mask replacement cushion is A7031 and reimbursement is around $25-50 each. The Medicare guidelines for replacing this mask are once every three months; however, most insurance will only pay for one full-face mask every six months and the cushion once per month.

How can I order a new mask?

Learn about our resupply program online here. We will verify your insurance and request authorization if needed to ship supplies.

Order Supplies

Other posts you may find interesting:

Teschler et al. Effect of mouth leak on effectiveness of nasal bilevel ventilator assistance and sleep architecture. Eur Respir J 1999

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