Zoning in: Advancements in plastic surgery made breast reduction a more realistic opportunity for Holler
In 1994, on a normal day in his military job, Erik Holler discovered a lump under his left nipple.
Though thankfully not cancer, the small lump instead turned out to be the earliest stages of gynaecomastia, or male breast growth - and the beginning of a difficult condition that led to life-changing surgery.
As Holler learnt, while they're the butt of many a teasing joke, male breasts can be a debilitating condition.
Laying it bare: Erik Holler first noticed his gynecomastia in 1994 when on military boot camp. The condition affected his self-confidence
Now Holler is speaking up about living with the problem and openly sharing his transformational surgery with the hope that it will help other men.
30 per cent of boys experience breast swelling during puberty and gynaecomastia in adult males is more common than many may imagine.
The most common causes of male breast growth, says ABC, are obesity, hormones and drug side-effects, but gynaecomastia differs to, say, fatty tissue gain in that the growth is the same - and as permanent - as that in women's breasts.
In gynaecomastia, cells grow and dirtribute themselves so that the male breast takes on the shape and size of a female's. Holler's chest began to look anything but like his own.
'The left breast actually grew more,' he told ABC's Good Morning America, 'And then the right side started growing, too. And they expanded themselves to their current condition, which, I'd probably say, I'm at least an A cup -- at least.'
Admiring glance: Holler steals a look at his augmented chest during surgery. The less invasive procedure lasted three hours
But now, advances in plastic surgery are making gynaecomastia treatable. Liposuction and lazer techniques mean that men can undergo breast reduction without the heavily invasive surgery that is usually associated with the procedure.
Holler's surgery, performed by Dr. Aaron Rollins in Beverly Hills, lasted about three hours and was followed with a course of hormones to further reduce swelling.
'They'll say something somewhat demeaning like, "Wow, pretty soon you're going to be borrowing your wife's bras"'
13 per cent of all plastic surgery in the U.S. last year was on males - an increase of five per cent in just a year and a half.
And, as the internet opens the lid on gynaecomastia, more men are coming forward for breast reduction surgery than ever before. In fact, says GMA, breast reduction is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures for men.
Gynaecomastia is known to affect confidence and make an impact on body image. Holler never took his shirt off in public.
He told GMA that family taunts hurt: 'They'll say something somewhat demeaning in some ways like, 'Wow, pretty soon you're going to be borrowing your wife's bras.'
It didn't help, though, that 'man-boobs' are the subject of many a popular joke, including Seinfeld's infamous 'manzier/bro' sketch.
Flat chested: The transformation has changed Holler's life, he now enjoys swimming and beach trips with his family for the first time since 1994
Dr. Julius Few, founder of the Few Institute for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Chicago told GMA: 'The psychosocial impact is significant.
'Often, patients are subjected to wearing multiple tee shirts or being afraid to go swimming, even in warm weather.'
All that has now changed for Holler, who recently visited the beach for the first time in years - and who now enjoys swimming with his family in the pool.
Though Holler and his family are thrilled with the results, Kathy Holler, Eric's wife, says she always found her husband sexy. His insecurity made her realise that all bodies are imperfect.
'I could see his discomfort with it,' said the mother of three. 'And it made me love him more.'