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Norwood Scale: Decoding The Stages Of Male Pattern Baldness

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Photo illustrating a consultation with a doctor on hair loss in men

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The Norwood scale was solely created to aid in classifying crown balding stages, otherwise known as the stages of male pattern baldness using a scale from 1 to 7. The aim of the scale is to additionally aid in identifying patterns of hair loss that might predict its progression. Comprehending this scale can assist doctors in setting the proper diagnosis and identifying the right treatment alternatives for each person. Many doctors might employ their own scales, even though they have the tendency to be quite similar to the Norwood scale. Keep on reading to find out more about the stages of the Norwood scale, specific treatments you might need for your male pattern baldness, some tips on hair health, and the right approaches to coping with hair loss.

Photo illustrating hair loss in men according to the stages of the Norwood scale

Stages Of The Norwood Scale

The scale of measuring the stages of male pattern baldness was first introduced to the world in the 1950s by James Hamilton. In the 1970s however, Dr. O’Tar Norwood went much deeper and improved it. The Norwood scale, named after its founder and creator, emphasizes that there are seven stages of baldness, and it gives models for each type of baldness. Each of the stages has a normal pattern and then a subcategory known as a class A pattern. The normal pattern commences with a bald spot on the top of the head, while class A balding has quite a different approach, the hairline begins receding from the front to the back, instead.

Stage 1

The very first stage of the Norwood scale is the control stage. Individuals in the first stage of male pattern baldness still have their full head of hair, and they have little to no indications of baldness or a receding hairline.

Stage 2 

Those in stage 2 don’t see much of a difference in their head either, except for a slight receding hairline, typically surrounding the temples.

Stage 3

Normally, stage 3 is where hair loss starts becoming visible. The hairline will start pulling backward from the temples that when viewed from above look similar to a curved “M” shape. Stage 3 class A, simply known as stage 3A, is the stage during which the dips in the hairline might be a little less defined.

Stage 3 Vertex

Regarding the receding hairline, stage 3 vertex balding is a little different from stage 3- less drastic. Nevertheless, individuals suffering from stage 3 vertex will also commence losing hair on the crown of their head, though this more often than not starts as a single small bald spot.

Stage 4

By the reach of stage 4, you won’t be able to notice any impactful hair loss. However, the hairline will start receding further and when viewed from above it will have now taken a “U” shape. And even though the bald spot on the crown becomes larger in size, there will still be left a strip of hair in between the bald spot and the receding hairline. In class A of this stage, known as stage 4A, an individual will lose the dips in their hairline and have now a much defined “U’ shape when viewed from above, rather than suffer from a bald spot on the back of the head.

Stage 5

Stage 5 is equivalent to stage 4, but the progression this time is more severe. There can still be found a tiny section of hair in between the balding crown and the receding hairline. Yet, this little strip of hair is very thin when compared to the former stage. In stage 5A, the progression of the hairline continues, toward the back of the head.

Stage 6

Someone who is experiencing stage 6 baldness is much more likely to be quite bald on the top and front of their head. The two regions have now joined together and there is no longer a strip of hair found between them. Though there might still be hair left on the sides of the head, the front and the crown of the head are now bald.

Stage 7

Stage 7 is when baldness starts to have an effect on the sides of the head, leaving only a very thin ring of hair encircling the outside of the head.

Photo illustrating hair transplant for men

Treatments For Hair Loss

There exist many alternatives for male pattern baldness treatment. Most of them have a high success rate during the early stages of hair loss. For those starting hair loss treatment during the later stages, only the stronger treatment alternatives are beneficial, such as hair transplantation.

In the following sections, we will tell you a little more about some of the treatment options accessible to all, for hair loss.


Minoxidil, known also as Rogaine, is a certain medication that the patient can apply to the scalp, directly. Found in two forms, that of a liquid solution and foam, the application is quite easy. What Minoxidil does is thicken the hair and promote hair growth on the scalp. Nevertheless, the results do take some time to become noticeable. As a matter of fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the results only start appearing after 3 to 6 months of using the product.


Finasteride, also known as Propecia, is a prescribed medication that medical practitioners might suggest for impactful hair loss. This drug has been approved for hair loss by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dermatological Procedures

Certain medical procedures have the ability to replace hairs or change altogether the scalp for the reduction of the appearance of baldness. Below are some of the alternatives available:

Scalp Pigmentation

The coverage of bald regions via small tattoos might help in creating an appearance of hair in the region. This is mostly preferred for those who like wearing their hair short or a buzzcut.

Hair Transplantation

Throughout this procedure the removal of tiny patches of healthy hair follicles from the scalp and their implantation into balding regions for the reduction of the appearance of baldness.


Microneedling employs a tool that contains hundreds of tiny needles to penetrate the skin and help hair growth. Determining whether or not microneedling is the right solution for you can only be done with the help of a dermatologist.

Photo illustrating hair loss in men

Coping With Hair Loss

Despite the fact that numerous individuals find different approaches to treating mild forms of baldness, it can still increase with age. The way a person picks to cope with hair loss is ultimately up to them. Some people make adjustments to their treatment so that they can maintain their full head of hair as feasible as possible. Even doing so, treatment alternatives might not be as successful with aging and hair becoming thin and weak. Some others might pick more enduring and long-lasting alternatives, like hair transplants. Others might even decide on wearing hair pieces or head garments for the coverage of their baldness. And there are even those people who choose to shave their head fully, rather than seeking treatment. Bear in mind that male pattern baldness is all normal when aging and there is no space for embarrassment or shame.


Hair loss and balding are quite common, particularly with aging. Comprehending the Norwood scale and which stage of male pattern baldness you are at can help you work with doctors to discover the best treatment alternatives. There are several treatment alternatives accessible to help you treat it, and the outcomes differ, from one individual to another.


Can You Go From Norwood 2 To 1?

Generally, hair loss tends to progress from one stage to another. Yet, if the cause of the hair loss was a certain habit, stress, or lifestyle, a more positive outlook can help reverse the effects, restoring in turn the receding hairline in stage 2 right back to stage 1. Furthermore, hair growth can always be improved by hair treatment products.

At What Age Do Men Start Balding?

Ultimately, there doesn’t really exist a specific age for balding in men. It’s all dependent on genetics. For certain men, it can be during their teenhood or their 20s, for others, it may be their 50s. Normally, men lose hair with aging. Nonetheless, data has shown that 60% of men suffer from impactful hair loss by the age of 35 to 40, the time when Dihydrotestosterone levels start to drop. And by the time they have reached the age of 50, approximately 85% of men are balding.

Do All Men Reach Norwood 7?

Not quite. As aforementioned the amount of hair one loses is dependent on your DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) levels and genetics. Many men are highly susceptible to getting bald and will get to stage 7 in spite of hair loss treatments. Many other men never go as high as stage 7, even without the use of hair treatments. Generally speaking, the hair loss pattern will become visible in the 30s. So if you have found yourself in stage 7 of the Norwood scale, by the time you get 40 years old, the hair loss will be extremely evident. Yet, our recommendation would be for men to undergo hair transplant surgery throughout the early stages of hair loss (stages 2 to 5) in order to impede any irreversible hair loss.

At What Stage Is A Hair Transplant Not Possible?

You can undergo a hair transplant at any stage of the Norwood scale. Nevertheless, we advise stage 7 patients against getting one, as there won’t be any donor hair left, enough to accomplish satisfying coverage. Nonetheless, we cannot say that there haven’t been any successful hair restoration surgeries for Norwood stage 7 patients, it has all been covered thanks to body hair. Thus, a hair transplant in Albania is possible at any stage of the Norwood scale, all you have to do is find some skilled hands and have a high amount of body hair growth.

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