Hamilton-Norwood scale or Norwood scale is one of the major classification systems which helps to measure the degree of male pattern baldness. Usually, in male pattern baldness, men lose their hair over a period of several decades. The Norwood scale gives us easy-to-reference images which indicate various stages of balding.
Keep in mind that the Norwood scale is just one of the classification scales for measuring the extent of baldness commonly used by hair transplant surgeons, doctors, and researchers. Several other classification scales are also available some of which focuses on female pattern baldness alone or on both sexes.
The Norwood scale can be classified into 7 different stages according to the pattern and severity of the hair loss. These stages are described below:
Stage 1. In this stage, no significant hair loss or receding of hairline is observed.
Stage 2. In this stage, your hairline will start receding slightly around the temples usually referred to as the mature or adult hairline.
Stage 3. This stage is where signs of clinically substantial balding appears. Now, your hairline will start to recede deeply at both temples and will start to form an M, V, or U shape. The area where balding occurs will be almost completely bare in this stage.
Stage 3 vertex. Stage 3 also has another variation in some males called stage 3 vertex. Here the hairline does not recede any further from stage 2, but a significant amount of hair is lost from top or vertex of the head.
Stage 4. In this stage, hairline recession becomes more severe and there is little or no hair on the top of your head. Now the two areas of hair loss namely the front and vertex are only separated by a thin band of hair which connects to the hair remaining at the sides of your scalp.
Stage 5. In this stage, hairline further recedes and hair loss from vertex continues so that the band of hair separating them will become more narrower.
Stage 6. In this stage, the separation between the balding areas at the vertex and at the front disappear and now you are bald. Only hair at the back and side of your head remains now.
Stage 7. This is the final and most severe stage. In this stage, only a thin band of very fine hair on the sides of your head remains.
How does hair loss look like in each stage?
Norwood class A. There is another variation of Norwood classification scale known as Norwood class A. This is slightly different from traditional Norwood classification and is less common. The difference here is that; the hairline recedes directly from front to back in a progressive manner. There will not be any hair loss at the vertex in the beginning unlike the traditional variation of Norwood classification where vertex balding begins at the beginning itself.
Some of the medical procedures which can treat baldness up to a certain extent are outlined below:
- Hair Transplantation. This is a procedure in which healthy follicles from back or side of your head is removed with skin and are transplanted to the hairless areas.
- Scalp Reduction. In this method, the bald scalp is removed and scalp areas with good hair growth are combined together surgically. For better results, hair transplantation can also be combined with this method.
- Scalp Expansion. Here, the skin of your scalp is stretched by inserting certain devices under your scalp for about 3-4 weeks. This can either be done as a stand-alone treatment or prior to doing scalp reduction.
- Scalp Micropigmentation. In this method, tiny tattoos are applied to the scalp which looks like microdots and creates the appearance of a freshly shaved head.
Irrespective of the treatment method adopted for baldness, it is always better to start the treatment before significant hair loss begins if you want to achieve good results.