People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appear more alert, youthful and attractive after two months of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, according to a new study in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (September 15, 2013, Vol. 9:9, pp. 845-852).
Researchers at the University of Michigan studied 20 adults with OSA and excessive daytime sleepiness. Digital photos of their faces were taken with a 3D camera before and after at least two months of CPAP therapy. Images were analyzed using computer software to assess the volume and color of the face. Twenty-two volunteers also viewed the images paired side by side in random order and rated them for alertness, youthfulness, and attractiveness.
Results showed that 68% of raters identified the post-treatment facial image as having a more alert appearance than the pretreatment photo for all 20 study participants. In addition, 76% rated the post-treatment photo as more attractive, and 64% rated it as more youthful. Image analysis also found post-treatment decreases in forehead surface volume, which may reflect changes in nightly fluid shift, and decreased redness under the eyes and over the cheeks.
According to the researchers, this is the first study to use digital photographic techniques to document changes in facial appearance after treatment for OSA and the first study to document that these changes in facial appearance can be perceived by others.