How Many Hair Grafts Do I Need? Insights From the Norwood Scale

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 05/14/2024

If you’ve been contemplating a hair transplant, there’s a good chance you’re doing as much research as possible before taking the leap. One question you might be considering: how many hair grafts do I need?

Knowing how many hair grafts you’ll need for your hair transplant can be confusing, as the best graft number varies between each individual.

However, some general guidelines can help answer this question. Read on to learn more about hair transplant grafts and other hair loss treatments.

When you get a hair graft, a surgeon will remove a small piece of skin that contains about one to four hair follicles from a donor area of your scalp, then transplant it into the part of your scalp you want to treat.

There are two types of transplants: follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT).

An FUE hair transplant uses a micropunch to remove small hair grafts. FUT takes a large strip of hair from the donor area and then slices it into individual hair grafts. While an FUT procedure uses a larger section of hair graft, an FUE procedure uses more individual hair grafts.

But in both, the healthy and strong hair follicles from the donor site are then implanted into the area affected by male pattern baldness, also called androgenetic alopecia.

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With more than 735,000 surgical hair transplant procedures performed worldwide in 2019 — a 16 percent increase from 2016 — the demand for hair transplantation continues to rise.

If you’re one of the many people looking to undergo this popular procedure, you might be left wondering: how many hair grafts do I need?

The number of hair grafts required varies from person to person. Some may only need 500 hair grafts, while others with extensive hair loss may need upwards of 3000 graft hair transplants.

One way a healthcare provider or dermatologist may determine how many hair grafts you need is to use the Norwood Scale.

Developed to measure hair loss progress, the Norwood Scale tracks the various stages of hair loss. A hair transplant surgeon may use this scale as a hair transplant graft chart to determine the number of hair grafts you need.

The number of grafts your healthcare provider recommends will likely differ depending on where you fall on the Norwood Scale.

Norwood 2 represents the early stages of hair loss, most noticeably in the form of receding hairline, so if you fall here, you may only need a minimal hair transplant graft. Typically, creating a new hairline requires 250 to 300 single-hair micrografts.

A 1000 grafts hair transplant may be more common for someone at a Norwood scale 3.

Meanwhile, a 3000 graft hair transplant is likely for someone at a Norwood 5, which includes significant, obvious hair loss around your hairline and crown.

Something else you’ll need to consider is your hair growth cycle or how fast hair typically grows.

Hair typically grows at a rate of one to two centimeters every month. This growth phase lasts two to four years and then shifts to the resting phase for around 100 days.

The growth cycle may affect how fast your hair grows post-transplant and means that you likely won’t see new growth right away.

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Generally, the more hair you’ve lost, the more hair grafts you’ll need — but there’s more to the hair graft calculation.

Three main criteria used to determine how many hair grafts you need include the extent of your hair loss, how fast you’re losing hair and potential future hair transplants.

In addition, your healthcare provider will take into account the donor hair, the size of your head, skin elasticity, potential future sessions and your age when deciding how many hair grafts you may need.

You may also need to consider hair transplant cost, the time each transplant takes, hair transplant clinics near you and more.

In both hair transplant techniques, the number of hair grafts you could safely have ranges between 4000 to 6500 scalp grafts. These will likely be transplanted across multiple sessions.

However, to avoid visible depletion from the donor area, the average grafts for hair transplant is between 2500 to 3000 grafts per session.

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgeons, only one percent of hair transplant procedures require 4000 hair grafts or more.

But no matter how many grafts you get, aftercare is important. For many people, this will involve using minoxidil as part of their post-hair transplant regimen.

Depending on where your current hair loss falls on the Norwood Scale, there may be less invasive (and more affordable) options that can be effective for you.

Topical minoxidil solution or minoxidil foam (mentioned above) and finasteride are both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to slow hair loss and increase hair density.

You can use topical minoxidil, take finasteride as an oral medication or use a combination of finasteride and minoxidil spray.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

If you’re seriously considering a hair transplant, the question “How many hair grafts do I need?” may have come up. So, what is the average number of grafts for hair transplants?

  • The number of hair grafts needed for successful hair transplantation varies based on factors such as the extent of hair loss, the availability of hair in a donor area, what the area you’re transplanting to looks like, your age and more.

  • A hair transplant clinician or surgeon may use the Norwood Scale for hair loss as a guide to determine how many hair grafts you need.

  • Hair transplants have continued to rise in popularity over the years, and many hair transplant patients look to hair restoration surgery to boost appearance and confidence.

In short, the number of hair grafts needed for hair transplant surgery can vary between people and depends on many factors. Whether you decide to go through a hair transplant or opt for a different treatment, you can start an online consultation with a licensed healthcare provider about hair loss treatments.

7 Sources

  1. Khanna M. (2008). Hair transplantation surgery. Indian journal of plastic surgery : official publication of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India, 41(Suppl), S56–S63. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2825128/
  2. Zito, P.M., Raggio, B.S. Hair Transplantation. [Updated 2023 Feb 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547740/
  3. Knoedler, L., Ruppel, F., Kauke-Navarro, M., Obed, D., Wu, M., Prantl, L., Broer, P. N., Panayi, A. C., & Knoedler, S. (2023). Hair Transplantation in the United States: A Population-based Survey of Female and Male Pattern Baldness. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 11(11), e5386. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10642908/
  4. Mysore, V., Kumaresan, M., Garg, A., Dua, A., Venkatram, A., Dua, K., Singh, M., Madura, C., Chandran, R., Rajput, R. S., Sattur, S., & Singh, S. (2021). Hair Transplant Practice Guidelines. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 14(3), 265–284. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8611706/
  5. Gupta, M., & Mysore, V. (2016). Classifications of Patterned Hair Loss: A Review. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(1), 3–12. Retrieved https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4812885/
  6. 2022 ISHRS Practice Census Results. (2022, April). ISHRS. Retrieved from https://ishrs.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Report-2022-ISHRS-Practice-Census_04-19-22-FINAL.pdf
  7. An update on hair restoration - imedpub.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://aesthetic-reconstructive-surgery.imedpub.com/an-update-on-hair-restoration.pdf
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

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