Did you know that about 35 million men suffer from male pattern baldness (MPB), or androgenetic alopecia, or that over 800,000 of those suffering from it will seek treatment? While those are astonishing statistics, the bigger questions to ask are “What Is Male Pattern Baldness?” and “How Do You Fix It?”

What Is Male Pattern Baldness?

In a nutshell, male pattern baldness is a condition most often caused by hormonal changes in men that trigger hair follicles to shrink, making hair grow at a slower rate. Inevitably, the follicles eventually cease to produce hair at all, and the area becomes bald. It is called MPB because it typically follows a predictable pattern starting at the front of the hairline and working its way back, in addition to affecting the hair at the crown of the head. Medical terms used to refer to MPB include male pattern alopecia, hereditary alopecia, and androgenetic alopecia, but, in the end, they all mean the same thing.

With male pattern baldness, a classification system is used for diagnosis that rates the progression of the condition. Using the Norwood Male Pattern Baldness Classification System, physicians diagnose the level of MPB with the following scale:

Type I – Minimal or no recession of the hairline

Type II – Definite recessions at each side of the temples – usually symmetrical

Type III – Hair loss great enough to be considered bald – significant recessions at the temples

Type III Vertex – Recession at the temples along with the start of a bald spot at the top (vertex) of the head

Type IV – Receding hairline beyond the temples with the balding at the crown more noticeable although there is still a strip of hair across the vertex separating the two areas

Type V – Recession has gone much farther back with less distinct division between the temples along with a much narrower band of hair across the vertex separating the front and temples from the crown

Type VI – A few sparse hairs in the strip across the vertex with the hair loss at the temples and vertex much greater so that the area is virtually bald

Type VII – Only a narrow band of hair on the sides and around the back with very sparse hair at the nape of the neck and in a semi-circle over the ears

How Do You Fix It?

There are several options to “fix” male pattern baldness which include non-surgical, surgical, and medical techniques for hair restoration to achieve a desired look. Most commonly, physicians specially trained in hair restoration recommend the following:

Hair Transplantation. This type of hair restoration is a permanent fix with very little risk. It involves surgical techniques to take grafts of hair from areas of the head not affected by MPB and surgically attach them in bald areas of the scalp so that the hair begins to grow in those areas.

Laser Hair Therapy. With laser hair therapy, infrared light therapy is applied to the areas of the scalp affected by MPB in an effort to stimulate growth.

Prescription Drug Therapy. Rogaine and Propecia are two well-known prescription therapies used to treat MPB. Rogaine is a topical solution rubbed into the scalp when hair loss is beginning to become slightly more noticeable while Propecia is an oral drug. The goal with both medications is to reverse hair loss.

To determine whether you suffer from male pattern baldness, you should schedule a consultation with a physician who specializes in hair loss and restoration. This allows a physician to examine and evaluate your scalp as well as get a complete medical history so he can recommend the best treatment plan to achieve your goals.