During the Season 25 premiere of TLC's Little People, Big World, star Zach Roloff opened up about the emergency brain surgery he underwent in early 2023 after waking up with a debilitating headache. Below, we explain what happened to Zach and give an update on how the father of three is doing now.
Why did Zach Roloff need emergency brain surgery?
Zach revealed during the Season 25 premiere of Little People, Big World dubbed "Sitting on a Knife's Edge" that he's suffered from bad migraines for years. But this particular migraine he woke up with one morning in February 2023, got progressively worse and caused him to vomit.
After being rushed to the hospital, he and wife Tori Roloff learned that there were two breaks in Zach's shunt. A shunt is hollow tube implanted in the brain to drain excess fluid into his stomach, where it can be reabsorbed.
Zach has hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid builds up in the brain's ventricles, that requires to have a shunt. He first got his shunt installed at just 16 months old.
Zach explained during the episode that in his early childhood, his shunt never gave him any problems. It wasn't until middle school that he started having issues with it, claiming he would begin to feel a lot of pressure behind his eyes. In 2006, he underwent corrective surgery for the device during Season 1 of Little People, Big World.
While Zach's shunt was successfully replaced during the medical scare, it was an emotional moment for his whole family. Tori said she had "never seen Zach in that much pain" before. As she explained, the lifespan of a shunt is 2-15 years and they learned that Zach's shunt was actually 16 years old. “We’ve been sitting on a knife's edge, and we just didn't know it," she explained.
How is Zach Roloff doing now?
When Zach first arrived home from his emergency shunt revision surgery, he was very limited in what he could he do. He explained that he couldn't lift over 10 pounds, couldn't bend down, and his head had to remain above heart level at all times. This made it hard to play with his three young kids. Zach also explained that now every time he got a headache, it became "triggering" for him, as he feared it might land him back in the hospital.
Fortunately, Zach appears to be doing much better now and hasn't had any other known medical scares since.
The doting father seemingly didn't take this incident lightly and praised Tori and his mom Amy Roloff for watching after the kids while he was sick. In fact, he appeared to feel guilty about not being proactive about his health and scaring his kids like that. "It [would be] super sad to think that Tori would have to explain to [the kids] why isn't dad here," he said, of ever returning to the hospital. Wishing Zach nothing but good health moving forward!
Watch Little People, Big World on TLC on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.