drywall ceiling - updated lighting - when to do whole panels?

situation is i am replacing 4 florescent ceiling fixtures (4' x 11" holes) with 3" recessed lights; the basement ceiling is drywall.
half the room went well due to old fixture placement with respect to where new lights bank landed (x3)
on the other half of the room inlies my question; the desired placement of the new lights is 22" from the wall places the row of x4 lights right in alignment with where the old fixtures where (old fixtures are parellel to the wall), somewhat centered I might add; the new junction box also went well placed within one of the existing holes and is within 6' of each light.
THE QUESTION: at what point on complicated layouts like this does it make sense to rip a whole new 4' x 11' hole for merely dropping in new sheets of drywall with fresh simple templated lamp and junction box holes vs. doing all the drywall patch work necessary to make the two old 4' x 11" holes look well with the new lamps coming though.
part of the problem is this is my first mud/tape life event and i'm scared that once i'm done it will look like crud and need to be professionally done anyways; never done corners before - me scared to make job into larger job;
additionally - if i do just patch the 2 holes - should i do that before cutting the 4 new light holes into the new 4'x11" section? - I assume mud/tape work around / within the 4' x 11" boards is complicated enough without alreading having holes in them?
Thanks so much

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