he Norwood scale is a system that is used to classify the extent of hair loss in men. It is particularly useful for men who have the typical male pattern baldness that is associated with androgenic alopecia.
This is because the way that hair is lost follows a predictable pattern which can show how severe the degree of loss is. This is then useful for hair loss specialists to evaluate and determine what steps can be taken in treating the condition.
It should be remembered that androgenic alopecia is genetic and very common, affecting many men throughout adulthood. A man who does nothing will progress through all the stages of the Norwood scale.
Stages on the Norwood scale
The scale has 7 stages, with 1 being the lowest extent of hair loss and 7 being the greatest extent of hair loss. Stage 1 is when there is no significant recession of the hair at the forehead and no noticeable loss on the sides of the head either. Stage 2 is when some loss of hair starts to become noticeable and there is also some loss of hair on the sides, the temples, of the scalp.
Stage 3 is more noticeable and it becomes quite evident that there is hair loss especially on the sides of the head. The hairline now may show a U, V or M-shaped appearance. In some men there may also be hair loss developing on the top of the head, the vertex. These cases are often categorized as stage 3 vertex.
The next stage, stage 4, the pattern is such that there is more loss of hair on the sides, and the vertex may show complete loss of hair leading to a noticeable bald spot being present. In stage 5 on the Norwood scale, there is more balding in the same regions as before with the hairline receeding further backwards and the vertex bald spot growing in size.
Stage 6 is when both bald areas found on the sides of the head and the vertex join up. The most severe stage on the Norwood scale is stage 7. This stage shows a bald head except for a narrow region or band of hair that goes around the side of the scalp.
There are variations on the general Norwood scale of classification, for instance, class A Norwood is when hair loss follows a pattern of receding backwards without a bald spot developing on the vertex at an earlier stage as occurs in the classic pattern.
Can anything be done about your hair loss?
How successful treatment of hair loss is may depend on where you are on the Norwood scale. Clinics that offer a FUE hair transplant will be able to assess your pattern of hair loss and give you some options as to whether or not a transplant is recommended. It is best to seek treatment sooner since if you are too far on the scale, then you may not have enough hair left to graft.