Measuring Genetic Male Hair Loss

Dr. James Hamilton first introduced the Hamilton-Norwood Scale which is now commonly referred to as the Norwood scale after Dr. O'Tar Norwood made a revision in the 1970s.  The norwood scale can be used as a guide to determine one’s level of baldness, typically in men although it is true that some women follow this pattern of hair loss also. 

It is important to view the norwood scale as a guide rather than a rule to be used to determine one's approximately level of hair loss. It is not a perfect guide, but it is a decent tool.

These are the typical patterns one might follow, but ultimately, there are often variations of it. Some men follow a diffuse thinning pattern which differs entirely from the norwood scale which involves thinning all over the top of the head.

Once we classify our level on the norwood scale, what do we do with it?  How can it help us in our hair restoration journey?

This will depend on the individual hair loss sufferer, but I believe in considering the following course of action:

  • Research everything there is to know about hair loss, its causes, possible solutions, etc.  The more you know, the better your decision making skills will be.
  •  Consider hair loss medication such as Propecia and Rogaine as your first line of defense to fight against further hair loss.  It might even help you regrow hair, though the percentage of this is less.  The higher we are on the norwood scale, the more likely hair loss medication will not be enough to restore all of our hair.
  • Research and educate yourself about hair transplantation surgery which to date, is the only highly effective means of restoring your hair.
  • Consult also with a hair restoration physician or dermatologist to determine the primary cause of our hair loss.  Though genetic hair loss is the most common - there are other causes of hair loss due to medical conditions that are worth ruling out.

Hair Transplantation is a viable option for some hair loss sufferers but a lot must be considered.  Hair transplant patients with higher level norwood scales typically require more follicular unit grafts to achieve both decent hair coverage and density. Because genetic hair loss is a progressive condition, one must plan for the long term.

If you are considering a hair transplant, I recommend reading the following blogs which will kickstart your research regarding hair transplantation:

To Hair Transplant or Not to?

Considering a Hair Transplant:  Where do I begin?

Am I too Young for a Hair Transplant?

How do I choose a Hair Transplant Doctor?