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Sleep Apnea Mask May Cause Subtle Facial Changes
Date:10/5/2010

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X-rays were conducted to assess facial structure with respect to the patients' facial height, jaw placement and tooth positions.

Tsuda and his colleagues found that despite the fact that none of the patients had themselves reported noticing any facial changes, changes were nonetheless apparent.

The authors observed a reduction in the prominence of both the upper and lower jaws, as a result of shifting dental arches and incisor tooth placement.

However, the team concluded that for now the benefits of CPAP for sleep apnea patients outweigh concerns raised by the potential for what appears to be a risk for relatively minor facial structure changes.

"I [would] never say that CPAP users should stop using their CPAP because of this side effect," Tsuda stressed.

Nevertheless, "further investigation is required," he said, which might result in design changes to the CPAP masks.

Meanwhile, "I think CPAP users should [have] this information [about] possible side effects," Tsuda said.

Dr. Jordan S. Josephson, a sinus, snoring and sleep apnea specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, expressed ambivalence about CPAP in general.

"I think CPAP is like a band-aid for sleep apnea," he said. "It can be a good short-term answer. But it does not resolve the real issues that are causing the sleep apnea in the first place. It's like putting a spare tire on your car when you blow it out. They always tell you not to ride on the spare tire indefinitely and to get the original tire fixed. So if sleep apnea patients are on CPAP and they're overweight, they still need to lose weight. And if they have allergies or sinus infections ultimately they really need to deal with that."

"So, overall my reaction to this finding is 'Wow, finally someone looked into this'," Josephson added. "And I'm not surprised. For a lot of reasons, this treatment is not easily tolerated by a lot of patients and this is just another reason that
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