Zones of the Scalp and Their Importance
If you’re considering a hair transplant procedure, it’s essential to understand the different areas of your scalp and how they’re affected by hair loss. Each region requires hair loss experts to employ different techniques and strategies to achieve proper hair restoration.
In addition, every zone plays a unique role when it comes to hair loss and hair restoration surgeries. Without understanding these characteristics, it’s difficult for patients to grasp how a hair transplant works and why certain decisions should, or shouldn’t, be made.
Whether you’re choosing a follicular unit transplant (FUT) or a follicular unit excision (FUE), nearly all donor hairs come from your natural scalp on the back (occiput) and sides (temporal/parietal). Because of this, only a finite number of follicles, or grafts, are available to harvest. Every case differs, but most patients max out at about 6,000 follicular units in their lifetime.
On average, most humans have about 100,000 hair follicles on their head, so why are only a fraction ultimately available for harvesting and transplantation? And if each person only has so many hairs, how do hair transplant specialists determine where each graft goes?
It’s all about the different scalp zones and their capabilities. Though there are technically more anatomic zones, there are three major regions all potential hair transplant patients need to know about: the forelock, the midscalp and the crown.
The Zones of Your Scalp
In all hair transplant procedure techniques, essentially you are moving hair —typically from the back of the head where hair loss is uncommon—to the front of the scalp where most men are balding. Due to genetics, the forelock, midscalp and crown not only are more prone to hair loss than other areas, but because of their visibility, balding is more noticeable.
So where exactly are these scalp zones?
- Forelock/Hairline: Located at the front of your scalp and includes the temporal recessions: most visible area of hair loss.
- Midscalp: The middle part of the top of your head; diffuse thinning rather than complete balding more common here.
- Crown, or Vertex: The back third of your scalp; balding here can go unnoticed because it’s hard to see on oneself but commonly coexists with hairline recession.
The occiput, the zone at the back of your head below the crown is also important. This area contains the strongest, and more densely growing hairs which are more resistant to genetic balding. It’s from here that most hair grafts are extracted.
Why Scalp Zones Matter
When potential patients visit a hair transplant office for a consultation, a specialist will begin strategizing which areas of the scalp require the most attention. They’ll also determine the number of likely donor follicles available. By carefully analyzing each scalp area, experts determine the appropriate number of grafts each area should receive and where they should be placed.
Because of the finite amounts of available hairs, it’s important to not only analyze the current hair loss situation, but also anticipate progression. The unavoidable progression of hair loss not only affects where transplantation is best served, but also provides realistic expectations for the future based on how many follicles will be available in the future.
For example, if too many donor hairs are allocated to the forelock in a patient’s early 30’s, what happens when significant balding occurs on the midscalp and crown once they reach 50s? Without enough available grafts, undergoing another successful transplant will be difficult—or even impossible.
However, by thoroughly analyzing the scalp—as well as choosing an experienced hair transplant specialist—improving your natural appearance with the best use of donor hairs over one’s lifetime can be accomplished.
How Do We Analyze the Zones?
Hair transplant specialists usually start examining at the forelock, which is often the highest priority for patients. Located just above the face, not only does this area usually bald earlier than other zones, but it’s also what you see when you look in the mirror and what others see first. Your hairline frames your face making it an important aspect of facial proportions and beauty. Specialists must take every patient’s unique hairline and face shape into consideration to create a natural look post-transplant.
Next, specialists examine the midscalp. Though still an important zone for determining follicle allocation, in the classic Norwood patterns, the midscalp is often left with more hair than the frontal zone or crown. The hairs in this area tend to grow in the same general direction and angle so treating this area is more straightforward than the forelock or crown but it may or may not be the first priority since it’s less visible during social interactions.
Located at the back of the head, the crown, also called the vertex, is a high hair loss zone often requiring a significant amount of grafts and nearly impossible to fully restore. It often requires multiple session to complete and that is only if donor hair allows for multiple procedures. It’s essential to understand the likely progression of balding but especially at the crown; you don’t want to create an island of transplanted hair with a moat of bald skin around it as hair recedes away.
It often makes more sense to concentrate the grafts in the frontal zones in order to use the available donor hair most wisely. After analyzing your thinning zones compared to your donor hair it is advisable to use your grafts to create aesthetically pleasing density in the most important areas rather than spread them evenly between all three zones.
Other less significant areas of hair loss including temples, sideburns, or lateral regions of the head may also be discussed based on your individual needs.
Think you’re ready for a hair transplant? Our experts at Limmer HTC would love to meet you! Together, we’ll create a hair care plan to map out the best ways to restore the hair of your dreams. Call us today at (210) 496-9992 at or set up an appointment online anytime.