July 20, 2020 3 min read

Androgenetic alopecia is a gradual hair loss process that can happen over the course of many years. The different stages of hair loss can be categorized into the either the Norwood or Savin scale depending on gender. The different stages and patterns of Male Pattern Baldness are seen in the Norwood scale, while Female Pattern Baldness is categorized in the Savin scale.

The Norwood Scale
The Norwood scale has 7 stages to it that starts at Stage 1 with no significant hair loss or recession of the hairline. Stage 1 is where we all start off initially. Stage 2 takes us to a slight recession of the hairline. Slight recession of the hairline is perfectly normal as our hairline matures with time. Our hairline will recede into our temples, which can panic some men, but is a natural thing to happen as we move into adulthood.

Stage 3 is where we first start to see the signs of clinically significant hair loss and balding. Stage 3 is actually split into 2 variations depending on where the hair loss is seen. The hair loss is either seen with a further deepening of our hairline at both temples or on the top of the scalp (the vertex). Stage 3 Vertex hair loss will maintain the hairline at the same point as Stage 2.

Stage 4 sees both Stage 3 variations combine and worsen. There is still significant hair left separating the hair line and vertex hair loss. The temples will now have a deep U shape to them. Stage 5 sees the vertex area of hair loss worsen and increase in size. The hair line recession will continue to recede back towards the vertex. The hair left separating the hair line and vertex hair loss has become narrower but it still bridges across the entire top of the head.

As we move to Stage 6, we lose that bridge across, with also sparse hair left in this area. As well the hair loss from the vertex continues to worsen and work its way further down the sides and back of the head. When we reach Stage 7, we are at the final picture of what Male Pattern Hair Loss will look like. The only hair left is the hair on the sides and the back of the head. For some reason these hairs aren’t affected by genetic hair loss like the hair on top of the scalp is.

The genes that we inherit from our parents will determine at what age we see the onset of Male Pattern Baldness and at what stage of the Norwood scale that our hair loss will finish. If left untreated not all of us will progress all the way to Stage 7. Some lucky few may only see hair loss as far as Stage 3 or 4.

The Savin Scale
The stages of Female Pattern Baldness are slightly different are fall into 3 stages, which a few variations within each stage. Female Pattern Baldness will start along the central parting and widen from there. Stage 1 has 4 separate steps to it, with the central parting getting wider and wider with each step. When we move to Stage 2 of the scale the widening of the parting has become significant and at this stage would be noticeable to the untrained eye.

Stage 3 of the Savin scale takes us to a large amount of loss across the entire top of the head. In some Advanced cases Stage 3 can progress to almost total thinning or loss across the entire top of the scalp. The one additional variation on the Savin Scale is frontal hair loss. In this hair loss stage, the loss is concentrated more towards the front/hair line. The hair loss pattern will follow a Christmas tree shape and start to taper off the closer to the vertex that we get.

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