In most cases, hair loss occurs gradually in both men and women. Furthermore, there is usually a predictable pattern that is involved, hence the name male/female “pattern baldness.” As a result, hair restoration specialists and transplant surgeons use two classification systems when diagnosing hair loss and recommending the right solution. The Ludwig Scale is used to classify female pattern baldness while male pattern baldness is classified using the Norwood Scale.
The stages of pattern baldness in men differ from that in women. Consequently, there are two different classification systems to accommodate these differences. If you’re a candidate for hair restoration treatment or hair transplant surgery, it’s important to know how far your hair loss has progressed when researching your options. Although these scales can be helpful when exploring your treatment options, a hair transplant doctor can better tell you an exact assessment or your condition.
Female Pattern Baldness and the Ludwig Scale
Women typically experience hair loss at the top of the scalp. As the condition worsens, the part in the hair widens. The Ludwig Scale breaks down the stages of female hair loss into the following 3 types:
Type 1: the least severe type – signs of thinning begin appearing along the part at the top of the head
Type 2: hair loss becomes more severe – the scalp starts showing in the areas that are thinning
Type 3: complete hair loss is evident on the crown – at this point, there has to be enough donor hair remaining if the person wants to be a viable candidate for hair transplant surgery
Male Pattern Baldness and the Norwood Scale
Although the Norwood Scale was originally developed by Dr. James Hamilton in the 1950s, it was updated on the 1970s by Dr. O’tar Norwood. According to this scale, there are 7 stages of hair loss as follows:
Class 1: this stage is represented by a full head of hair; no visible signs of hair loss
Class 2: hairline begins receding; “widow’s peak” starts forming on the forehead
Class 3: hair loss above the temples and on the crown becomes more significant; more receding on the forehead is evident
Class 4: hair loss is more noticeable above the temples and on the crown
Class 5: a significant amount of hair loss occurs on the crown and vertex (the point where the midscalp meets the crown)
Class 6: major hair loss is evident but there are still viable donor areas (NOTE: hair transplant surgery can still produce excellent results)
Class 7: hair loss is the most evident; there may still be a sufficient amount of donor hair available, but surgical results may be limited
While the Ludwig or Norwood Scale can be extremely helpful in determining how far your hair loss has progressed, you should still consult with a hair transplant surgeon.