Ms. Spence is the second woman to be charged in recent years by the Manhattan district attorney with manslaughter in connection with a so-called back-alley plastic surgery operation. Two weeks ago Tamira Mobley, 32, an unlicensed cosmetologist, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in exchange for a sentence of one and a third years to four years. She admitted she had injected silicone into Tamara Blaine, 22, at a seedy Manhattan hotel in July 2013. An autopsy found that silicone also entered Ms. Blaineâs veins, causing fatal embolisms.
The operation, known as a Brazilian butt lift, has grown in popularity, fed by the soaring celebrity of pop-culture figures like BeyoncÃ©, Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj, who have inspired popular tastes for large and shapely behinds.
Plastic surgeons have seen a surge in requests for the procedure in recent years, with double-digit increases. There were 18,489 buttocks augmentations performed by licensed doctors in the United States in 2016, up 26 percent from the year before, and 2,999 buttocks implants, an 18 percent increase, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
At the same time, law enforcement officials have seen an insidious growth in back-alley clinics offering cheap versions of the procedure, often using industrial-grade silicone bought at hardware stores in unsterilized settings.
Injecting silicone into patients for cosmetic purposes has been illegal since the 1960s because it can cause deformities, scarring and embolisms. Surgeons today use fat taken from other parts of the body.
Silicone is particularly dangerous to push into the buttocks, where there are major blood vessels that can carry it to the heart and lungs.
âItâs a dicey area,â said Dr. Debra Johnson, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. âThere is a watershed in the lower buttocks where the big veins from your leg connect with the…