Classify Your Hair Thinning and Loss

The Norwood Scale: A Bay Area Hair Loss Resource

The most common cause of hair thinning and loss in men is a hereditary condition known as androgenic alopecia. Though this problem may manifest in a male adult at any age, and it proceeds at its own pace in each individual, it does progress in a known pattern, giving it its more common name: male pattern baldness. Most typically, the recession leads to the creation of an "M" shape at the hairline, which eventually pulls back into a "U," causing the remaining hair to resemble a horseshoe.

Since the increasing severity of a man's hair thinning and loss via androgenic alopecia is roughly predictable, hair experts over the years have developed and refined a baldness classification system known as the Norwood Scale, which allows men to find their degree of hair thinning on a standardized chart. Identifying the stage of a man's hair loss can help him work with professionals, such as Dr. David Lieberman and Dr. Sachin Parikh, to develop the best plan for treatment to preserve his remaining hair and even bring hair back to where it was lost.

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Diagram of a man showing hair loss


  • 2.
    • Mild hair loss concentrated at the hairline and "widow's peak" of the forehead.
Before and after of hair transplant on man
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  • Diagram of man with hair loss
  • Diagram of man with hair loss
  • Diagram of man with hair loss
  • Diagram of man with hair loss
  • Diagram of man with hair loss
  • Diagram of man with hair loss

Stages of Hair Thinning and Loss

The Norwood Scale breaks male pattern baldness down into seven stages, numbered 1 through 7. Each stage may be further broken down into sub-categories, presenting a dozen total images for comparing the hair thinning in the illustrations to what you see when you look in the mirror.


This represents a head with no visible hair thinning. Think of it as the base template.


This shows the beginning of some retreat at the temples and possibly the forehead, often referred to as a receding hairline.


Temporal recession becomes more pronounced, and the hairline can push back farther from the front.


In addition to more recession in the front and at the temples, possibly leading to a pronounced widow's peak or a deep field of bare skin or sparse hair, advanced hair thinning on the crown can create what is commonly known as a bald spot.


The hair thinning at the temples, front hairline, and crown begin to converge at this stage.


This image depicts near-total loss on the front, upper sides, and crown of the head. These three areas of bare skin or sparse hair have met, creating an overall appearance of baldness.


Hair is gone from the top and front of the head, with just a single remaining strip that runs from one ear, around the back of the head, to the other ear.

Learn more about how doctors measure hair thinning with the Norwood scale at the Lieberman & Parikh Center for Hair Restoration, a hair loss clinic. For more information, call (650) 327-3232 or arrange for a consultation.

How to Use the Norwood Scale

The Norwood Scale can give you an idea of your own hair thinning progression, but you should still visit a professional who can assess the stage that most closely approximates your degree of loss and recommend a treatment that will yield healthy, full, natural-looking results.

What Causes This Progression?

Men who experience male pattern baldness are suffering from a genetic- and hormone-based problem that causes follicles to shrink over time. The hairs that grow from these follicles thin and shorten until they disappear entirely due to a lack of production.

It's important to note that not all hair thinning and loss is caused by androgenic alopecia. Environmental factors such as diet and stress can cause hair to fall out, as can certain medical conditions, which may trigger rapid or patchy hair loss, create brittle hair, or cause skin irritations. A doctor can help make a diagnosis in these cases.

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What Can Be Done About Hair Thinning and Loss?

Men with androgenic alopecia have hair preservation and restoration options at every stage depicted on the Norwood Scale. The earlier treatment begins, the more options may be available for ideal results, but some degree of restoration is possible, even for men who have reached Class 7.

Many men find great success with follicular unit extraction, an advanced method that involves taking healthy hair from baldness-resistant areas of the scalp and transplanting it to the areas where hair is thinning or lost. This strategy has been the basis of many treatments throughout the years, but Dr. Lieberman and Dr. Parikh use the latest automated technology and advanced techniques for unparalleled precision and positive results.

Talk to the staff at the Lieberman & Parikh Center for Hair Restoration to learn more about non-surgical options to treat hair thinning and loss, including medications, innovative therapies such as L&P Stimulate, and more.

Charting Hair Thinning in Women

Though doctors use the Norwood Scale as the standard for charting hair thinning in men, they use the Ludwig Scale for measuring the progression of androgenic alopecia in women. While male pattern hair loss typically begins as a receding hairline and a growing bald spot, female pattern hair loss is a unique condition and tends to appear as generalized hair thinning on the sides or top of the head.

Discuss your degree of hair thinning and get expert help based on the Norwood Scale at the hair loss clinic serving San Francisco and beyond: the Lieberman & Parikh Center for Hair Restoration. Call (650) 327-3232 to find out more, or set up a consultation.