Americans are living longer and getting heavier. That is taking its toll on people's joints.

Some doctors are offering a new high-tech, highly efficient approach to surgery.

What makes this type of surgery so different isn't what happens in the operating room but what takes place before that.

using state-of-the-art 3D imagery, doctors build a meticulous plan of their surgery before ever picking up a scalpel. When that plan is perfected, they load it onto a computer and use a robot to help carry it out.

"It has in its mind a concept of this knee, its size and its shape, we just have to tell the robot where the actual knee is," says Dr. Andrew Glassman.

Doctor Glassman, orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State University, is among the first to use this new technology.

He says the robotic arm and computer help him find and only remove diseased parts of the knee joint, unlike a traditional approach which often disrupts normal, healthy tissue.

The result is a much more precise surgery and much shorter recovery time.

Something that appeals to people like Fred Carson, whose job keeps him on his feet 40 hours a week.

Even though Carson's often in pain with arthritis. He's been putting off knee surgery because some can take several months or even a year to fully heal.  This approach is different.

"Six weeks, man, that's good. And, if you can get out of this without any kind of pain, man, that's really wonderful," says Carson.

In the next 20 years, the number of knee surgeries in the U.S. Is expected to surge to nearly 4-million a year.

Doctors say this high-tech approach can offer a highly-efficient way to help handle all of those cases.

"Less blood loss intra-operatively, less pain post-operatively and faster rehabilitation, and, therefore shorter hospitalization," says Dr. Glassman.

Doctors say the procedure works best on patients who have limited cases of arthritis, usually in just one or two joints of the knee.