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Norwood 3 Hair loss: Everything You Need To Know

    Hair loss is a challenging issue that can get worse over time, affecting different people in different ways, with bald patches and thinning appearing in a variety of places.

    To help understand hair loss, experts use the Norwood scale — a simple way to help grade and categorise hair loss and make managing male pattern baldness easier.

    In this article, we look at exactly what the Norwood scale is, how it works and its various stages, as well as what treatments and medications are available to people who suffer from male pattern baldness. Read on to get started.

    norwood 3 hair transplant result
    Norwood 3 hair loss affecting the hairline and temples (before picture above). This gentleman underwent surgery to restore hair in the areas of recession (after picture below)

    What is the Norwood scale?

    The Norwood scale is the main system used to measure and categorise the various stages of male pattern baldness.

    As hair loss typically occurs in a number of distinct and common patterns, the Norwood scale helps people easily identify and understand what stage of male pattern baldness they are currently at.

    There are seven stages to the Norwood scale:

    • Stage 1: no notable hair loss or receding hairline.
    • Stage 2: the hairline around the temples slightly recedes, also known as a mature hairline.
    • Stage 3: the hairline significantly recedes around both temples, with the affected areas either completely without hair or only lightly covered.
      • Stage 3 vertex: while the hairline appears the same as at stage 2, the top of the scalp (also known as the vertex or crown) displays significant loss of hair.
    • Stage 4: the hairline recedes to a greater extent than in stage 3, and the vertex is sparsely covered or entirely bald. Each separate area of hair loss is separated by a strip of hair.
    • Stage 5: the two separate areas of hair loss are more significant than at stage 4. The strip that separates them is thinner.
    • Stage 6: the hair loss at the vertex meets the hair loss at the temples. The strip of hair has now completely disappeared or is very light.
    • Stage 7: the most noticeable stage of the Norwood scale, only a thin strip of hair around the head remains.
    norwood scale for hair loss
    Norwood Scale for hair loss

    What does your hair look like on the Norwood stage 3 scale?

    Stage 3 of the Norwood scale is often the first indicator of male pattern baldness. Typically characterised by a more noticeable receding hairline, Norwood stage 3 can appear at any age.

    During stage 3 of the Norwood scale, your hairline will start to develop a more pronounced ‘M’ shape when viewed from above. While the hair loss at this stage of the Norwood scale is not dramatic, it is still more noticeable, especially from the top and, to a lesser extent, from the sides.

    Norwood 3 vertex

    There is also a further variation within stage 3 on the Norwood scale called stage 3 vertex, also known as stage 3A. During this stage of the Norwood scale, the hair on your vertex (or crown) will begin to thin. It is also often (but not always) accompanied by hair loss around the temples.

    If you suspect you are experiencing stage 3 vertex of the Norwood scale, take a photo of your hair from the top. If the M shape of your hairline is more pronounced and there is slight thinning at the crown of your head, you may be at stage 3A of the Norwood scale.

    Norwood 2 vs 3

    Many people find it difficult to tell the difference between Norwood stage 2 and Norwood stage 3. But while they are somewhat similar, there are some notable differences.

    Stage 2 of the Norwood scale is largely characterised by a very slight recession of the hairline, particularly near the temples. This typically appears during the transition from teenagehood to adulthood and is generally not a cause of concern in terms of hair loss.

    However, during stage 3 of the Norwood scale, the hairline is more noticeably receded. When viewed from above, the M shape of the hairline is more pronounced, extending deeper onto the scalp than in stage 2. Some people may also experience Norwood stage 3A.

    There is no defined time limit for the time it takes to progress from Norwood 2 to Norwood 3. If you are at stage 2, you may never even proceed to stage 3. Some people may develop stage 3 during their twenties, while others may only experience it during their thirties, forties or even fifties.

    The best way to tell if you are progressing from stage 2 to stage 3 of Norwood is to keep an eye on your hair. Examine your hairline to see if it’s changed at all (taking regular photos may help), and keep an eye out for any hair shedding, particularly in the shower.

    How to treat hair loss at Norwood stage 3

    If you are currently experiencing Norwood stage 3 hair loss, there are several ways you can treat it, both surgical and non-surgical.

    Before you consider a surgical option, it may be worth considering trying a different hairstyle to help disguise or reduce the appearance of your Norwood stage 3 hair loss.

    A buzz cut isn’t for everyone, but it is a great way of hiding a receding hairline or a balding spot on the crown. Comb-overs can also help hide Norwood stage 3 baldness by pushing the fringe over the hairline or the vertex to cover any thinning or receding.

    Other options for treating hair loss at Norwood stage 3 include medication:

    • Minoxidil: applied to affected areas on the scalp, this topical cream is easy to use and offers proven results in managing hair loss at Norwood stage 3 — one study reported more than 45% hair regrowth after using the 5% minoxidil cream than the 2%, so choose the 5% for best results.
    • Finasteride: an oral medication used to help treat hair loss, particularly at Norwood stage 3, finasteride is particularly effective at managing hair loss on the vertex.

    If you have tried the options above and still need further treatment, it may be worth considering a hair transplant.

    Hair transplants for Norwood scale 3

    For people experiencing stage 3 of the Norwood scale, a follicular unit excision (FUE) hair transplant is usually the preferred solution to help restore hair and combat pattern baldness.

    FUE hair transplants involved extracting individual hairs from the sides and back of the head. Once they have been removed, they are then carefully transplanted into the areas of the scalp that are thinning or balding. 

    These kinds of hair transplants provide a thicker, fuller head of hair, and cause less damage to your hair follicles. For more information, please read our guide on how a hair transplant works.

    norwood 3 hair loss and hair transplant result
    This gentleman had a Norwood 3 level of hair loss affecting his hairline and temples. He underwent a 1510 grafts transplant to restore hair in the area of recession

    How many grafts are needed for Norwood 3 hair loss?

    The number of grafts you might need for Norwood 3 hair loss can vary from person to person.

    As a rule of thumb, you may need anywhere between 500 to 1,800 grafts. However, if you are also experiencing Norwood stage 3 vertex, you will require extra grafts to fix this area. For a specific crown hair transplant, you may need between 1,000 and 2,500 grafts.

    These are just rough estimates — the final total can vary depending on how much hair you’ve already lost, your age, whether you suffer from Norwood stage 3 vertex, your gender assigned at birth and your hair type. Use this handy hair transplant graft calculator to determine how many grafts you will likely need for stage 3 Norwood hair loss.

    If you are thinking about having a hair transplant treatment to combat hair loss, we can help. Book your hair transplant consultation with Treatment Rooms London today to talk to one of our hair loss experts about our outstanding results with minimal recovery time. 

    The Treatment Rooms London, excellence in FUE hair transplant surgery.

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