Division of Surgery


The Division of Surgery is the management and administrative hub of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's surgery services.

Contact Information

Wollongong Hospital
Level 2, Block B,
Loftus St
Wollongong NSW 2500
02 4255 1346

8:00am - 2:30pm

Monday - Friday

Our Staff

Clinical Assoc Prof

Clinical A/Prof Smita Agarwal is a comprehensive Ophthalmologist. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Graduate Medicine, University of Wollongong and lectures at the University of Sydney.

Dr Agarwal specialises in cataract and refractive surgery, and has interest in corneal cross-linking for progressive Keratoconus, Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Dr Agarwal is actively involved in teaching and mentoring. She has also published research papers in peer-reviewed journals and has presented lectures in Australia and at International ophthalmology meetings and conferences.

For more information about the services that Clinical Assoc Prof Agarwal offers, you can visit her website.

Head of Department - Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr Aziz Bhimani is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in all aspects of hip and knee surgery. He offers the best possible treatment and utmost care to each individual to restore freedom of movement and relieve the pain of diseased and degenerated joints. Dr Bhimani insists in educating his patients on their conditions, treatment options, as well as risks and complications of the treatment.

Head Of Department - Plastic Surgery

Dr Matthew Starr is a highly regarded Australian and internationally trained Specialist Plastic Surgeon. He Dr Starr grew up in Wollongong and is exclusively based in the Illawarra and South Coast region. After completing his medical and surgical training in Sydney, Dr Starr travelled to Europe to pursue his passion for Breast & Body Contouring Surgery, Reconstructive Microsurgery and Paediatric Plastic Surgery. Based in London, he successfully completed Postgraduate Fellowships at the internationally renowned Great Ormond Street and Royal Marsden Hospitals. During the course of these fellowships, Dr Starr was honoured to be appointed as the inaugural Senior Plastic Surgery Microvascular Fellow at The Royal Marsden, and as a Consultant Paediatric Plastic Surgeon at Great Ormond Street hospitals respectively. He has since returned home to settle in the Illawarra and provide a Specialist Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery service to its community where he has appointments in both the public and private systems.


Dr Starr has a special interest in:

  • Breast Reconstruction – with DIEP flap (your own tissue), or Implants
  • Paediatric Surgery – Otoplasty (correction of prominent ears), Birthmark & Cyst removal, Correction of Congenital Asymmetries
  • Facial Surgery – Eyelid Surgery, Rhinoplasty
  • Gynaecomastia
  • Microsurgical Reconstruction – Breast, Lower Limb, Perineal, Head & Neck
  • Skin Cancer & Melanoma
  • Hand Surgery – Carpal Tunnel, Trigger Finger, Dupuytren’s Contracture

Memberships & Qualifications:

  • Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • Member of the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with Honours - The University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Arts - The University of New South Wales


Surgeon - Ear Nose & Throat (ENT)

Professor Stuart MacKay offers general adult and paediatric ear, nose, throat and head and neck assessment and surgical services.

Prof MacKay completed his medical degree at the University of NSW in 1998, graduating with honours. His Fellowship in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery was completed in 2006.  In 2007 he completed a Fellowship in Airway Reconstruction Surgery for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This Fellowship also involved further training in Head and Neck and Laryngology (Voice).

He is the Vice President of International Surgical Sleep Society, on the clinical committee of the Australasian Sleep Association, a reviewer for Sleep and Breathing, Laryngoscope and AJO and holds Chief Investigator status on NH+MRC and Garnett-Passe funded grants.

Prof MacKay  has an honorary clinical professorship with UoW, a fellowship with UWA and has trained recent ENT fellows to establish Sleep Surgery practices as leaders throughout Australasia. 

VMO - General Surgery

Dr Soni Putnis is a Colorectal & General Surgeon. Dr Putnis specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and management of benign and malignant conditions of the lower GI tract. She has a particular interest in laparoscopic surgery for bowel cancer.

Dr Putnis has an active interest in mentoring and teaching in the hospital setting. She is a Fellow of both the English and Australasian Royal College of Surgeons.

For more information on Dr Soni Putnis, you can visit her website.

Head of Department - Urology

Dr Rahul Rindani is a Urologist with expertise in:

  • Laparoscopic surgery - for renal/adrenal tumors
  • Prostate cancer - diagnosis and surgical treatment
  • Endoscopic surgery - for stone disease
  • Prostate enlargement (BPH) - diagnosis and treatment for benign prostatic hypertrophy
  • Urodynamics - for diagnosis of lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Testicular tumors and trauma - diagnosis and treatment and ongoing care.

Dr Rindani has also published and presented urological papers.

For more information on Dr Rahul Rindani, you can visit his website.

Head of Department - Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT)

Dr Sharad Tamhane is an Ears, Nose & Throat Surgeon who treats both adult and paediatric patients.

His areas of special interest include:

  • Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
  • Ear Surgery
  • Surgery for Snoring
  • Hearing & Balance Disorders
  • Vestibular Function Tests (VEMPS, Impulse Test & ENG Audiology, BERA & CERA)
  • Allergy Investigations (for current practice patients only)
Assoc Prof
Head of Department - Vascular

Associate Professor Laurencia Villalba is Wollongong’s only female vascular surgeon. She is head of the Vascular Department at Wollongong Hospital, and founder of the Vascular Care Centre in Wollongong.

Her special interests are: minimally invasive treatment of complex venous and arterial pathology; May Thurner Syndrome; Pelvic Congestion Syndrome; Deep Venous Thrombosis; and Pulmonary Embolism.

In 2018 A/Prof Villalba was the first-ever female surgeon selected to become a member of the prestigious Court of Examiners. She has been teaching at Wollongong Hospital since 2008, and became an Associate Professor in 2017.

She is also a highly sought-after speaker at medical conferences globally.

For more information about Assoc Prof Laurencia Villalba, you can visit her website.