An Update on 'Little People, Big World' Star Matt Roloff's Health

Matt Roloff suffers from a different type of dwarfism than ex-wife Amy and son Zach, creating different health challenges for him.

Kelly Corbett - Author

Apr. 2 2024, Published 8:00 p.m. ET

Matt Roloff
Source: Instagram / @mattroloff

TLC's Little People's Big World follows Matt, Amy, and their son, Zach Roloff, who were all born with dwarfism.

Due to their limited stature, they've faced various medical issues less common in people of average height. The family has navigated numerous health challenges over the years. But now that Matt and Amy are getting older and are both in their sixties, they're starting to run into issues more frequently.

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During a Season 25 episode of Little People, Big World, Matt had a health scare after a routine upper endoscopy went awry, and there were concerns he had esophageal damage.

So, what exactly happened to Matt and how is he doing today? Plus, we take a look into Matt's medical history, which included several corrective surgeries throughout his lifetime, and how his dwarfism differs from the type his ex-wife and son have.

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What happened with Matt Roloff's esophagus?

In May 2023, Matt visited the doctor for a routine endoscopy after experiencing a sensation of his esophagus closing off, and producing a significant amount of phlegm. In response to these symptoms, Matt underwent a routine upper endoscopy, a procedure that uses a thin, camera-equipped tube to examine the upper digestive system. This particular incident was shown in an episode of Season 25 of Little People, Big World.

But just a few minutes into the procedure, doctors alerted Matt's fiancée Caryn Chandler, that there had been a complication. She was told that they were afraid they had perforated the wall of Matt's esophagus.

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They quickly ran some tests to check his esophagus and confirmed that it hadn't been punctured. However, doctors came to an unexpected realization: Matt's esophagus was too large for his body.

Despite Matt's small stature, doctors discovered he has a normal-sized esophagus. This unexpected size difference caused the esophagus to become kinked.

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In a confessional, Caryn explained to Matt, "So [the doctor] said yours is longer than your body can handle, so it's pushed to the side. .... poor little esophagus all crammed in there and kinked over."

Additionally, doctors identified that Matt had significant acid reflux damage.

Matt explained that the doctors did "stretch" his esophagus out to alleviate the closed-off feeling he was having, which was a plus. However, this seemed to only be a temporary solution.

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Fortunately, Matt appeared to bounce back quickly from this health scare involving his esophagus, revealing on Instagram at the time that he only took a few days off from work. However, he did note that "more work" needed to be done on him medically, although he didn't clarify what that entailed.

Matt appears to be in good health and has since recovered following this scary hiccup, but it's unclear if he's still struggling with health problems behind the scenes.

Matt Roloff had 15 corrective surgeries during his childhood, but still can't walk without crutches.

Amy and Zach suffer from the most common type of dwarfism, Achondroplasia. According to Boston Children's Hospital, people born with achondroplasia have short arms and legs, an enlarged head, and an average-sized trunk.

Meanwhile, Matt suffers from a type of dwarfism called Diastrophic Dysplasia, which is much more rare. It affects the normal development of cartilage and bone, often contributing to shortened limbs and mobility problems.

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Because of Matt's type of dwarfism, he needed many operations as a child on his limbs. In 2018, he revealed that he had 15 surgeries during his childhood on an episode of the podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey.

Matt Roloff
Source: Instagram / @mattroloff
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"I had a rough childhood. Not from a family perspective but just from orthopedic surgery, spending long periods — sometimes months — in a hospital with very limited access to your parents," Matt revealed, noting he spent over 700 days in the hospital as a result.

"It was just the way they did it back in those days and going through some very painful operations. So I do think all of that sort of built up a muscle of resiliency and gave me a sense of can-do and tenacity."

But despite all of the various corrective surgeries that Matt had in his formative years, he still can’t stand up straight or walk without the help of his crutches. Given today's advancements in technology, someone born today with Matt's type of dwarfism likely wouldn't need an extensive amount of operations like that.

That said, the high number speaks to how vastly different Diastrophic Dysplasia is from other types of dwarfism.

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As for Matt's family history, his parents Ron and Peggy and sister Ruth are of average stature. However, his younger brother Sam has the same form of dwarfism as him.

Matt also had another brother named Josh, who was born with a severe heart and lung defect. At the time, doctors weren't even sure if he would make it out of the hospital alive. Fortunately, he did, but Josh's medical challenges ultimately led to his early death at age 34 in 1999.

Watch Little People, Big World on TLC.

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