During a recent visit to my CPAP supplier, they told me that ResMed had made available to them a brand new full face CPAP mask, the Resmed Quattro Air and they wanted to know if I was interested in testing it out. No need to ask me twice!
I was quite interested in the Quattro Air because it was billed as being 45% lighter than the rest of the Resmed Quattro range and fewer pieces to take apart and clean.
The best way to describe my experience with this mask is just to come right out and say it, I hated it. It was by far the worst CPAP mask I’ve ever tried.
During my first night with the Quattro Air, it lasted all of about forty minutes before I had to wake up and put back on my Fisher and Paykel Simplus. I tried it again the second night and it lasted less than half an hour the second time around before I had to get up and switch it out so that I could get some good sleep.
So what was wrong with the ResMed Quattro Air?
Probably an easier question to answer is, what was right with it? The headgear was nice and soft and it was very easy to adjust in the darkness of night. The silicone forehead piece is easily the most comfortable forehead part of any CPAP mask I’ve ever tried – it really is a nice innovation on the part of Resmed.
And from there, it really is all down hill.
The mask was just way too narrow for my face. When I would open my mouth wide I could feel the corners of my mouth breaking the seal of the mask along the sides. I thought maybe it was just me, but my CPAP provider said when I returned it that this was the same complaint they’ve had from a few people who’ve tested the mask.
It was also really uncomfortable on my face. The silicone seal inflated under pressure, but because of how narrow it is, you have to tighten the mask quite a bit and as a result, there’s this harder plastic edging underneath that digs into your face. This was the reason I had to take it off, it actually was a bit painful to wear.
The headgear itself is great, like I said, nice and soft, but the way it connects to mask is with hooks that the headgear straps loop over the top of. First of all, it’s not really easy to strap into the mask and secondly, it just feels really cheap.
Actually, that was my overarching feeling about the Quattro Air – it just felt really cheap. The lightweight aspect of the mask contributes to that cheap, plastic feel.
Which I suppose leads me to the whole “lightweight” angle of the mask… Why? When I first heard about it, I was curious, but then after I thought about it for awhile, it just didn’t seem to make any sense to me why this would be a feature. I’m not going out running great distances in my CPAP mask. Even if I have to take it with me somewhere, the difference in weight is more or less negligible.
I really want to put this in context – the fact that over two nights, the mask got just over one hour of combined use is really rare for me. Since starting CPAP therapy four months ago, I’ve had 100% usage – I’ve never once taken my mask off during the night. So for this mask to require me to swap it out, two nights in a row after less than an hour each time was a first for me.
There is no scenario imaginable that would ever bring me to recommend this mask to someone else.
At the end of the day, the Resmed Quattro Air just seems like a bunch of solutions to problems that nobody is having.
Being an adventurous sort of person, I decided that I’d rent a Philips Respironics FitLife mask from my CPAP equipment provider and test it out for a few days to see how I liked it. The Philips FitLife has always intrigued me because it really is a full face CPAP mask covering almost the entire surface of your face. Somewhere in my thought process I just assumed it would be an easier overall experience, but honestly, I had pretty mixed results.
I’m going to start this review by talking about some of the things I really didn’t like about this mask.
Probably the most noticeable thing for me was that it was quite confronting when I put it on and tried to go to sleep for the first time. I suppose if you’re a SCUBA diver or something like that you might not find it so odd, but I really found it very noticeable right from the moment I first put the mask on that it was like I was wearing some kind of helmet. I was almost hyper-aware of the mask and that’s not the most conducive feeling when you’re trying to drift off to sleep. I wore the mask for about four nights and while that closed in feeling subsided a bit, it was still something I was very conscious of every time I tried to go to sleep.
Another issue for me was that I really struggled to get the mask to stay put on my face while I slept. The wider surface area means that the edges come into contact more with your pillow and over the course of the night, I kept finding the mask riding up my face and literally covering my mouth with the silicone cushion of the edge – in fact, on my third night with it, I woke up to find it sitting above my top lip and my whole mouth not covered. Needless to say, my wife said I snored a fair bit that night. I kept trying to tighten the mask to keep it in place, but then I found the headgear digging into the back of my skull and hurting.
Then there were the little annoyances with the mask:
It wasn’t all bad, the Respironics FitLife mask does have some good qualities as well. For example, the headgear is very well made and structurally a good design. I know I said it dug into my head a bit, but I was having to make it very tight. The FitLife was also exceptionally well behaved when it came to leaks, each night the leaks were under 35L/m which is a very acceptable.
Most importantly, I didn’t wake up tired and had good energy during the day on the days that I used the FitLife.
I really like the concept of this mask and I have to say that deep down I wanted to like this mask, but I won’t be buying one and replacing my Fisher & Paykel Simplus that’s for sure. I think the idea of the mask is great and I’m certain that over time I could overcome the odd discomfort from being so enclosed, but the problems with this mask just outweigh the good. I’d really like to see Philips Respironics have another crack at this type of mask because I don’t think they are that far away from being onto a winner and if they do produce one, I’d be really looking forward to testing it out.
The first CPAP full face mask that I took home from my supplier was the Philips Respironics Amara Mask. We tried the Fisher & Paykel Simplus like I was fitted with at the hospital during my overnight sleep apnea study, but when we applied pressures above 12 cmH20 the mask just couldn’t get a good seal for some reason whereas the Amara seemed to work straight away and was comfortable.
The Amara is a very good quality mask and it came with very comfortable headgear that held the mask nicely on my face without riding or sliding up. The locking mechanism for the headgear is well made but can be a little tough to snap into place when you’re not used to it. The face mask comes away from the frame easily enough for cleaning and maintenance without being flimsy. The silicone seal has this balloon-like action that adds a layer of comfort when you get the mask to fit properly.
For me, the mask did a good job, but it was not without its shortcomings.
First of all, the leaking into my eyes was problematic. I had to really tighten the straps very securely to make the mask get a snug seal and not leak air while I slept. During my first week, this caused a pretty nasty irritation on my neck. I managed to persevere, but it is easy to see why some people give up on CPAP treatment when the masks are a problem.
Secondly, the mask caused pretty bad bruising and irritation on the bridge of my nose. By the end of the second night using the Amara, my wife and I had to go out looking for some kind of bandage or something to stop the bridge of my nose from blistering. We went to a drug store locally that we knew carried CPAP equipment and masks and found the ResMed Gecko Gel Nasal Pad – this resolved the bruising issue right away but added an extra element to the whole process of wearing the mask.
Finally, my statistics while wearing the mask weren’t great. Don’t get me wrong, I was sleeping much better, but my AHI was still hovering around the eight to eleven mark most nights and my leaks were around 50 l/min. Before going on CPAP therapy my AHI was over 70, so the Amara was working great, just not perfectly.
There were other elements to the mask that didn’t really do much for me or were a bit of a nuisance.
The padded forehead with adjustable slider to move the mask closer or a bit away from your nose didn’t really do much for me. I had to tighten the mask so much that the pads were compressed and actually caused me discomfort.
Probably the two most annoying elements to the Amara had to do with condensation. The condensation would pool in my mask while I slept and occasionally I would inhale it which would wake me up coughing. Also, the ventilation would whistle while I was asleep most nights. I later read that this was caused by turbulence being created by the humidity around the vents. We tried all sorts of humidification and heating settings with the F&P Icon machine and could never get it right.
Obviously, results will vary depending on your face shape and a number of other factors. And despite these problems, I stuck with the Philips Respironics Amara mask for just over a month. It is a very well made and solid mask, it just wasn’t perfect for me.
When I did my sleep study in the hospital, the first mask that they tested me with was the Fisher & Paykel Simplus Mask. The sleep technician said that this new mask was getting great results for most people they’d tested it on and that it was now the first one they tried for anyone who needed a full face mask.
Within a couple minutes the technician had me strapped in and we were testing the mask with some pressure from the machine. This was the first time I’d ever worn a CPAP mask and it was very comfortable, I didn’t find it unnerving or distracting at all. Most importantly, there were no leaks and we had a good seal!
That night I slept really well in the sleep clinic and despite a few “first time” issues with the mask, we had a pretty good result and the next morning the technician told me she was recommending to doctor that I use the F&P Simplus when I started my CPAP therapy at home.
When it came time to go to the CPAP supplier and pick up my trial equipment we tested out the Simplus. Strangely enough in their offices, we couldn’t get a seal, and the Simplus was leaking significantly into my eyes.
Fast forward a few weeks and having tried a few other masks, I asked the equipment supplier if we could try the Simplus again. We went through the fitting this time and it worked a treat – I think during the initial fitting in the supplier’s office they tried a medium size mask rather than the large and it may have been too small.
The first night I got the Simplus home I put it on, adjusted the straps and fell right to sleep. I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and no pain or discomfort on my skin from the mask. My AHI and low leakage numbers confirmed that I’d had a good sleep and no issues with the mask.
The Simplus was easily the most comfortable mask I’ve worn to date. The mask fits securely without being too tight and causing marks or bruises – bruising and blistering across the bridge of the nose can be a real problem with some masks, but not this one.
The headgear on this mask is my favourite set that I’ve tried to date. The straps are easy to adjust even while lying down, so if you find a small leak or something in the middle of the night, you can quickly adjust the velcro straps without having to get out of bed. One minor problem that I have is that I sometimes find the lower straps ride up the side of my neck a bit during the night, but that’s easily fixed and is probably more to do with my face shape than anything else.
The clips on the Fisher & Paykel Simplus Full Face Mask make taking it on and off a breeze. It has a very nice “catch” system that is secure when engaged but very easily removed with a quick flick of the wrist.
The mask is also incredibly easy to clean and service because the frame and the mask come apart and clip together so easily. You can literally remove the mask from the frame with one hand and snap it back in place just as quickly. The frame has been designed to work with all three sizes of masks: small, medium and large. I clean the mask in the morning with warm water and a little Baby Shampoo. I haven’t tried the CPAP cleaning wipes that you can buy online just yet but will post a review of these when I do.
Having tried masks from all of the major suppliers of CPAP masks, I am convinced that the Fisher & Paykel Simplus is by far the easiest to use and most comfortable CPAP full face mask on the market today.