A man looks at his hairline in the mirror.

The Norwood Hair Loss Scale: Addressing Male Pattern Baldness

Thinning hair is something we all experience.

For men especially, losing their hair is a part of growing older. Most men can expect to lose most of it by the time they’re seniors. Unfortunately, many begin losing theirs much sooner than that—much to their frustration and displeasure.

But how early is too early? When should you as a man start to be concerned that what’s happening isn’t just natural? Is there a way to know whether your receding hairline is on par for men of your age, or an early sign of male pattern baldness?

Yes! That’s what the Norwood Hair Scale is all about.

In this blog, we’ll break down the seven stages of hair loss, what accelerates the processes of male pattern baldness, and hair loss treatment options.

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?

Androgenetic alopecia (a.k.a genetic baldness) is a predetermined disorder that affects up to 50% of men and women. It is characterized as the progressive loss of hair on the scalp at any time after puberty. It is the result of the body’s excessive response to androgens, sex hormones that regularize the development of male characteristics.

Essentially, this disorder shrinks hair follicles and shortens the cycle of hair growth until outright stopping its production. While it is the most common reason for male pattern baldness, other illnesses, medications, thyroid conditions, and anabolic steroids can also trigger hair loss.

Understanding The Stages of Hair Loss

Doctors worldwide use the Norwood Scale as a guide to measure the degree of male pattern baldness. Here are the details of its seven stages:

Stage 1: Control Phase

Someone at Norwood 1 doesn’t show significant loss or baldness. Their hair is likely similar in quality, thickness, and texture to when they were an adolescent.

Stage 2: Slight Balding

A Norwood 2 hairline exhibits a slight recession, mainly around the temples. Doctors describe this phase as being similar to that of a mature hairline, which commonly happens to adult men as they age.

Stage 3: Significant Balding

Norwood 3 is often the first true indicator of male pattern baldness. It typically presents itself in two ways: Stage 3 Vertex and Stage 3A.

 A man with very little hair on his head

Stage 3 Vertex

Norwood 3 Vertex happens when the receding begins at the centre of your head. The hair loss looks like an O, and the patch may have little to no hair. Only this area has baldness, while the rest of the head is completely covered.

Stage 3A

Norwood 3A begins at the hairline, starting from the temples and creating the letters M, U, or V. Patients may also experience both Norwood 3A and Vertex at the same time, depending on their genetics.

Stage 4: Severe Hair Loss

In Norwood Scale 4, a patient experiences severe hair loss on their skull. Their hairline is receding further, leaving a connecting band between itself and the vertex. Hair on the temples and the skull has begun thinning as well.

Stage 5: Advanced Baldness

At this point, the vertex and hairline are balding, while the sides and back of the head still have hair. Norwood 5 also exhibits a deep receding hairline, exposing the forehead. This is the stage when hair transplants may be recommended.

Stage 6: Baldness on the Crown of the Head

Someone at Norwood 6 showcases baldness on the crown of the head, from the hairline to the vertex. Only the hair from the sides and back of the skull remains.

Stage 7: Most Advanced Baldness

Patients at Norwood 7 have a completely bald top of the head, with hair present at the back and on the sides.

Hair Loss Treatment Options

Here’s the good news—hair loss is treatable!

Depending on what stage you’re at on the Norwood Scale, it may be possible to treat your hair loss or at least slow down the process. After taking blood samples and studying your medical history, doctors may offer any of the following solutions:

    1. Medication

Medication for hair loss comes in several forms: topical creams, shampoos, supplements, and oral drugs. Doctors may prescribe one of the following items to their patients:

  • Topical minoxidil
  • Oral finasteride
  • Antiandrogens
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antifungal medications

A man receives platelet-rich plasma therapy.

    2. Surgical Procedures

If a patient is in the higher stages of hair loss, doctors may recommend undergoing surgical procedures to promote growth and restore density:

    3. Laser Therapy

Laser therapy can also be used to stimulate hair growth on the scalp. Low-level or red laser light is used to illuminate photons to scalp tissues. Weak cells then absorb this light and use it to promote growth.

    4. Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy

Did you know injecting your blood into the scalp boosts hair growth? This is what platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is all about! Increasing blood supply to the follicles triggers increased production. It also improves the thickness of your hair shaft.

Don’t Let Hair Loss Get You Down!

Now you know the seven stages of hair loss and some treatment options.

Remember: the Norwood hair loss scale is just a reference point. Everyone is different, and the progression of hair loss can vary. Don’t get down, even if you’re discouraged about where you currently find yourself on this scale!

Harmony Med Spa can help get your confidence back. Book an appointment today to speak with our team of medical experts. We’ll help you evaluate your hair loss using the Norwood Hair Scale and then create a personalized treatment plan to get you feeling your best again.

Send us a message to learn more!